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Individual’s Electronically Filed Petition Dismissed as Untimely, A.J. Sanders, 160 TC –, No. 16, Dec. 62,230

An individual who had electronically filed a petiton to seek redermination of tax deficiency eleven seconds after midnight of the due date had his petition dismissed as untimely. The Tax Court’s electronic filing system (DAWSON) was held to be a filing location for the puposes of Code Sec. 7451, and this location was available at all times on the day the taxpayer’s petition was due.

Untimely Petition

The taxpayer alleged that he had encountered problems when electronically filing his petition and that those problems caused the petition to be untimely. The taxpayer had set up an account to electronically file the petition through DAWSON and had downloaded the necessary PDF forms to his Android mobile phone, but he was unable to fill out the forms on his phone. Subsequently, he was finally able to switch to his Windows computer shortly before midnight but was slowed down by having to send the filled out forms from his phone to his email to be downloaded to his computer. Moreover, the taxpayer had to refer to the instructions several times. However, DAWSON remained operational for other users at all relevant times. Since the petition was not received by the tax court until eleven seconds after midnight, it was not timely under Code Sec. 6213(a).

DAWSON as Filing Location

The taxpayer contended that DAWSON system errors prevented him from filing his petition at or before midnight and claimed protection under Code Sec. 7451. However, DAWSON, as a filing location, was not inaccessible or otherwise unavailable to the general public on the taxpayer’s last filing date. Code Sec. 7451 was inapplicable because the difficulties experienced by the taxpayer such as his inability to fill out PDF forms on his phone were irrelevant. The forms were completed separately and were not a part of DAWSON’s filing portal.

Mailbox Rule and Equitable Tolling Inapplicable

The Tax Court held that the mailbox rule was not applicable to electronic filing. Further, the doctrine of equitable tolling was not applicable in the taxpayer’s case because the filing deadline was jurisdictional under Code Sec. 6213. Congress has limited the Tax Court’s deficiency jurisdiction to only those cases in which a petition has been timely filed and the tax court has not been given the authority to extend the deadline in Code Sec. 6213 by equitable tolling.

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