Postmarks Matter

Today is the deadline to make your fourth quarter estimated tax payment. That payment must be postmarked today. It doesn’t have to be received by the IRS today, but you do need it to be postmarked today. The easiest, best, and safest way to ensure compliance is to mail your payment using certified mail. When you do that, your receipt is stamped by the post office with the date it was mailed.

Why do I bring this up? Because yet again a case was decided by the Tax Court dealing with something sent a day late. Today’s petitioner had a deadline of Monday, May 8, 2006, to file a petition with the Tax Court. The petition was received by the Court on May 10th, and showed a handwritten date sent (the petition was sent by FedEx) of May 8th. But the FedEx computer generated receipt showed it was sent on May 9th. Additionally, the tracking documentation showed it entered the FedEx system on the 9th.

The Court does an excellent job of summarizing the issues:

A timely mailed petition may be treated as though it were timely filed. Sec. 7502(a). Thus, if a petition is received by the Court after the expiration of the 90-day period, it is nevertheless deemed to be timely filed if the date of the U.S. Postal Service postmark stamped on the envelope in which the petition was mailed is within the time prescribed for filing. Sec. 7502(a); sec. 301.7502-1, Proced. & Admin. Regs.

The Tax Court takes two pages to note that the rules also apply to private delivery services. Handing the envelope to a hotel worker on the evening of the 8th was not equivalent to handing it to an employee of FedEx on the 8th. Suffice to say, the petitioner was a day late and a dollar (or more) short.

Case: Austin v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 2007-11

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