Monday, April 18, 2022

Court Holds That Regs. Do Not Recognize Deposited Mailbox Rule Unless Sent Certified or Registered Mail

We previously posted on July 3, 2020, The Common Law Mailbox Rule Now Superseded By Regulations where we discussed that after Sec. 7502's enactment, the courts generally took two positions regarding its effect on the common law mailbox rule. 

Some courts held that it superseded the common law mailbox rule and provided the exclusive exceptions to the common law physical-delivery rule. Other courts held that Sec. 7502 only provided a safe harbor to the physical-delivery rule and that under the common law mailbox rule, testimonial and circumstantial evidence could still be used to prove timely mailing.

To resolve the split among the courts, the IRS issued regulations (proposed in 2004, finalized in 2011) to make clear that the common law mailbox rule is no longer available. Under the regulations, a document must be postmarked by the U.S. Postal Service on or before the last date prescribed for filing, and the document must actually be delivered to the IRS (Regs. Secs. 301.7502-1).
The court in Baldwin,921 F.3d 836 (9th Cir. 2019), found that Sec. 7502 is silent as to whether it replaces the common law mailbox rule and that the regulation's interpretation is based on a permissible construction of the statute. Therefore, the regulation was valid.
Now in Stephen K. Pond v. U.S., case number 1:21-cv-00083, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, the court dismissed a man's case seeking a tax refund for 2013 because his accountant sent his return by first-class mail, so the man can't benefit from a presumption his return was filed on time.
The court said on April 13, 2022 that it dismissed Stephen Pond's case because he hadn't proved his return was physically delivered on time, and under a Treasury regulation, the only exceptions to a requirement to show physical delivery were those for certified or registered mail explicitly included in Internal Revenue Code Section 7502 

Pond claimed he mailed his amended return via first-class mail and the Internal Revenue Service has no record of receiving it before the statute of limitations ran out, so he failed to meet either criteria to bring his case, the court said.

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