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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Mail Rules

All tax systems have deadlines - deadlines for filing items, deadlines for making payments. The taxes under the Internal Revenue Code are no different. Since most items and payments are submitted via mail, when are items deemed filed and how does a taxpayer prove submission?

Certain rules have been developed in regard to these issues, both under the Internal Revenue Code and under common law. As much as you would think these issues have been resolved after so many years, there are still some open questions on these issues. Just this week, the U.S. Supreme Court refused jurisdiction over a case that addressed the issue whether a taxpayer can attempt to prove receipt of an item filed with the IRS if it was not submitted via certified or registered mail.

Below is a general overview of the two key issues (when is an item deemed filed, and how does one prove filing).

1 Proof of Receipt by IRS-------------------------------------------------------------

-1.1 Proof of registered or certified mail and that envelope was properly addressed is prima facie evidence of delivery (Code Sec. 7502)

-1.2 Common Law Mailbox Rule: when mail is properly addressed and deposited in the U.S. mails, with proper postage, there is a rebuttable presumption of receipt by the addressee

---1.2.1 There is a split among the courts whether this can be used absent use of registered or certified mail (that is, whether Sec. 7502 overrides the common law mailbox rule)

----- The Supreme Court recently refused to review a recent case that held that Sec. 7502 does not override the common law mailbox rule [Sorrentino, 94 AFTR 2d 2004-5902, cert denied 10/3/2005]

----- Prop. Reg. Sec. 301.7502-1(e) provides in effect that Code Sec. 7502 overrides the common law mailbox rule

-1.3 Effect: to avoid any question as to IRS receipt, use certified mail or registered mail

2 Time of Filing or Payment-------------------------------------------------------------

-2.1 When received after a filing date, the IRS will use the postmark date as the mailing/filing date so effectively deemed filed/paid as of the date of mailing (Sec. 7502(a)

---2.1.1 if the postmark date is on or before the due date (Sec. 7502(a)(2))(A))

---2.1.2 if the item was properly addressed and mailed (Sec. 7502(a)(2)(B))

-2.2 When sent by registered or certified mail, the date of registration or certification is treated as the postmark date for this purpose

3 Exceptions-------------------------------------------------------------

-3.1 Court filings, other than Tax Court

-3.2 Currency or other medium of payment unless actually received

-3.3 items requiring by law to be delivered by means other than mailing

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