The Louisiana Court of Appeals recently ruled in Crotwell v. Robinson that the Louisiana Department of Revenue failed to meet its burden that a taxpayer’s individual income tax refund claim was untimely.
In this case, the taxpayer was required to file a claim for refund by Dec. 31, 2014. Louisiana regulations provide that the filing date is evidenced by a U.S. Postal Service postmark or registration by certified mail. However, the taxpayer’s certified mail receipt only indicated that the department received the return on Jan. 5, 2015. The court noted that the period of Dec. 31, 2014 through Jan. 4, 2015 was either a state holiday or a day of the weekend. Under Louisiana law, when the due date for a return falls on a holiday or weekend, the due date becomes the next day the state government is open. The taxpayer’s representative also offered testimony that he mailed the return by certified mail on Dec. 31, 2014. For these reasons, the court held that the department did not meet its burden of showing that the return was not timely.
This case represents a rare reversal of the Louisiana Board of Tax Appeals which sided with the department and originally found the taxpayer’s claim untimely. The taxpayer in this case did not obtain a postmark or certified mail receipt that showed the mailing date of the return. Had it done so, it would have been spared the time and expense of litigation. Taxpayer also failed to offer other documentary proof, such as a credit card statement, that the return was timely filed before the board.
While the taxpayer ultimately prevailed, the case illustrates the importance of good record keeping and adherence to department rules and regulations especially entering filing season. Taxpayers filing documents with a taxing authority should also not assume that filing due dates on weekends and state or federal holidays are automatically extended to the next business date as that is not always the case. Taxpayers faced with filing obligations should consult with their tax advisors.