Tax Court Dates: Why Timing Matters – A Warning Tale

Today, let’s dive back into the world of taxes, focusing on electronic petitions and why timing matters, especially when dealing with Eastern Time (ET).

What You Need to Know

To get the Tax Court to hear your case, filing your petition on time is crucial. According to Tax Court Rule 22, all petitions, no matter the format, are considered filed when they reach the Tax Court in Washington, D.C., which is in the ET zone. If you send your petition via U.S. mail or a designated delivery service, the IRC § 7502 rule helps out – it considers your petition on time even if it arrives after the due date. However, this doesn’t apply to electronic petitions.

Let’s take a cautionary tale from the Nutt v. Commissioner case (160 T.C. No. 10, May 2, 2023). The taxpayers, living in Alabama, had a deadline of July 18, 2022, to file their petition electronically. They filed it on July 18, 2022, at 11:05 p.m. in their Central Time zone. Unfortunately, it wasn’t officially received until 12:05 a.m. ET on July 19, 2022, in Washington, D.C. The result? The Tax Court couldn’t hear their case, and the taxpayers lost the chance to review their tax liability before paying.

The case is now under appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, but the lesson is clear – timing matters.

What You Can Do

The key is to file early. Give yourself enough time to deal with any tech issues and time zone differences. For guidance, check out the U.S. Tax Court’s website, which has useful info on electronic filing, including the Petitioners’ Guide to Electronic Case Access and Filing and the DAWSON Self-Represented (Pro Se) Training Guide.

More Help for Taxpayers

You have the right to get help from an authorized representative for your dealings with the IRS. If you’re dealing with Tax Court matters and have a lower income, you might qualify for free or low-cost representation from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC). LITCs can help you in audits, appeals, and tax collection disputes.

If you’re having trouble with the IRS or think there’s a procedural problem, you can reach out to the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS). TAS is independent from the IRS and can offer support and information on your rights. But keep in mind, contacting TAS doesn’t give you more time to file a petition with the Tax Court.

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