Executive summary: Tax Court affirms that the deadline for filing a timely petition cannot be extended even under compelling circumstances.
Tax Court holds firm on the 90-day time limit for filing a petition
The Tax Court recently reaffirmed that a timely filed petition is a jurisdictional requirement and that it cannot extend the deadline even under compelling circumstances. In Hallmark Research Collective v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 159 T.C. No. 6 (Nov. 29, 2022), the taxpayer received a notice of deficiency and under section 6213(a) had to file a petition in Tax Court within 90 days. The taxpayer filed the petition challenging the deficiency one day late. The taxpayer stated that their CPA had been suffering from COVID for the past 40 days. Following its long-standing precedent, the Tax Court dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction.
After the case was dismissed, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Boechler P.C. v. Commissioner, No. 20-1472 (S. Ct. Apr. 21, 2022) holding that another statute governing Tax Court jurisdiction (section 6330(d)(1), challenges to Collection Due Process determinations) could be equitably tolled in compelling circumstances. Armed with the favorable opinion in Boechler, the taxpayer in Hallmark asked the Tax Court to reconsider its earlier order dismissing the petition for being filed one day late. The Tax Court was unmoved. The Tax Court unanimously held that the 90-day deadline is well-settled law and the Supreme Court’s holding in Boechler did not extend to the 90-day deadline of section 6213(a). The Tax Court traced the long legislative history of section 6213(a) and how Congress treated the 90-day deadline as jurisdictional, prohibiting the Tax Court from expanding its jurisdiction to include late-filed petitions absent a change in law.