Ignore IRS Mail at Your Own Risk!
That’s what taxpayer Onyango found out, when the Tax Court slapped down his arguments that he “just didn’t know” about the mean and nasty IRS actions taken to his detriment.
Seems our boy would spend 30 to 40% of his time sleeping overnight at his Columbus Drive, Chicago apartment, spending most of the rest of the time staying with friends during a period of time in 2010 when IRS was trying to make contact with him. Indeed, an IRS representative contacted him by letter to schedule a meeting to discuss some proposed audit adjustments. Onyango did not appear at the scheduled meeting. Thereafter, IRS sent another letter to the Columbus Drive address advising that if the taxpayer did not reply within 20 days, a notice of deficiency would be issued, which is exactly what ensued – IRS sent the notice by certified mail, return receipt requested.
On several occasions the Postal Service attempted, unsuccessfully, to deliver the deficiency notice to Columbus Drive and, on at least two occasions, left notices of attempted delivery of certified mail at that address. In those notices, the Post Office informed the taxpayer that it had certified mail to deliver to him and that he had to sign a receipt for that mail before the Post Office would deliver it to him.
But the fact is that Onyango did not check on a regular basis his mailbox at Columbus Drive, and did not follow up on any Postal Service mail items delivered there. Indeed, he usually disregarded and rarely opened the bills that he received through the Postal Service mail system at Columbus Drive.
So, after all of this, the taxpayer headed for the court house, disputing the IRS’ proposed assessment, reasoning that under the Internal Revenue Code, a person may dispute the existence or the amount of the underlying tax liability for any tax period if the person did not receive a notice of deficiency for that tax liability or did not otherwise have the opportunity to dispute that tax liability. Onyango took the position that although IRS mailed to him by certified mail, return receipt requested, the statutory notice of deficiency, he did not receive that notice within the (required) 90 day period during which he could have filed a petition contesting the matter.
Nice try, said the Tax Court, finding for the Revenooers and against Onyango. A bloke may not decline to retrieve his Postal Service mail when he was “reasonably able and had multiple opportunities to do so.”
In other words: the party’s over; pay up!
CONSULT YOUR TAX ADVISOR – This article contains general information about various tax matters. You should consult your CPA regarding the implications to your particular situation.
Jeff Quinn, the author of this article, is a shareholder in Ashley Quinn, CPAs and Consultants, Ltd., with offices in Incline Village and Reno. He can be reached at 831-7288, welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org, and invites readers to consider his other commentary at http://blog.nolo.com/taxes.