A Penny Saved, Lots of Dollars Lost

The old cliche is, “A penny saved, a penny earned.” In real life, though, sometimes when you save some pennies you lose lots and lots of dollars. So was the case for two taxpayers who filed a case in Tax Court.

The Tax Court has very strict deadlines. You typically have 90 days from the date on a Notice of Deficiency to file a Tax Court case. Marcius and Andrea Scaggs wanted to file a Tax Court case. They were apparently procrastinators, so they waited to the last allowed day to file the case. They also didn’t trudge to the Post Office; had they done so and mailed their petition using certified mail, return receipt requested, they would have been fine.

Instead, they went to FedEx. There’s nothing wrong with using FedEx, but you need to use the right service. They used “Express Saver Third Business Day.” That is not an approved delivery method so the petition was considered filed on the date of receipt, not the date it was sent. So their case was thrown out. Had they spent a few more dollars and used FedEx Priority Overnight, FedEx Standard Overnight, or even FedEx Two-Day, they would have been fine.

As an aside, many post offices now have Automated Postal Centers. These will time stamp a letter as of the current date and time, so you can timely file on the last day after the post office has closed! I’ve had a couple of clients use this for filing tax returns at the very last minute, and they were successful.

For the Scaggses, they must now pay the tax and file a lawsuit in either Federal District Court or the Federal Court of Claims. And that’s far more expensive.

Joe Kristan and the TaxProf have more.

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