The Supreme Court has held that the 30-day time limit to file a petition for review of a collection due process (CDP) determination is a nonjurisdictional deadline subject to equitable tolling. Justice Barrett, writing for a unanimous Court, rejected the IRS’s argument that allowing Code Sec. 6330(d)(1) to be equitably tolled will appreciably add to the uncertainty already present in the CDP process.
Facts. After a CDP hearing, the IRS Office of Appeals sustained a levy against Boechler, P.C. Under Code Sec. 6330(d)(1), Boechler had 30 days to petition the Tax Court for review of the Appeals Office’s determination. However, Boechler filed its petition one day late.
Code Sec. 6330(d)(1) specifically provides that a “person may, within 30 days of a determination under this section, petition the Tax Court for review of such determination (and the Tax Court shall have jurisdiction with respect to such matter).”
How we got here. In the Tax Court, the IRS argued that the 30-day deadline in Code Sec. 6330(d)(1) was jurisdictional; therefore, the Tax Court didn’t have jurisdiction over Boechler’s petition because it was filed after the 30-day deadline. Boechler argued that the 30-day filing deadline was nonjurisdictional and, thus, was subject to equitable tolling.
The Tax Court dismissed Boechler’s petition for lack of jurisdiction.
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, agreeing with the Tax Court that the 30-day filing deadline in Code Sec. 6330(d)(1) is jurisdictional and can’t be equitably tolled. See CA 8: 30-day time limit to petition Tax Court is jurisdictional (08/04/2020).
Boechler filed a petition for review to the Supreme Court, which was granted in September 2021. See Supreme Court to decide if time limit to petition Tax Court after CDP hearing is jurisdictional (10/06/2021).
Supreme Court decides 30-day deadline not jurisdictional. The Court found that the 30-day deadline to file a Tax Court petition for review of a CDP determination is not a jurisdictional deadline and, thus, is subject to equitable tolling.
First the Court noted that many procedural requirements are not jurisdictional but simply instruct parties to take certain procedural steps at certain times without conditioning a court’s authority to hear the case on compliance with those steps.
The Court went on to say that Code Sec. 6330(d)(1)’s text doesn’t clearly mandate a jurisdictional deadline because there are multiple, plausible nonjurisdictional interpretations of the text. In contrast, other tax provisions enacted around the same time as Code Sec. 6330(d)(1) clearly link their jurisdictional grants to a filing deadline.
The Court also rejected the IRS’s attempt to equate the filing deadline in Code Sec. 6330(d)(1) with the deadline for taxpayers to file refund claims in Code Sec. 6511. According to the Court, unlike the filing deadline in Code Sec. 6511, the deadline in Code Sec. 6330(d)(1) isn’t “written in “emphatic form” or with “detailed” and “technical” language and isn’t reiterated multiple times.”
Finally, the Court rejected the IRS’s argument that allowing Code Sec. 6330(d)(1) to be equitably tolled will “appreciably add to the uncertainty already present in the CDP process.”
What this means. This decision will help taxpayers who don’t file petitions for review of CDP determinations within the 30-day filing period in Code Sec. 6330(d)(1). The IRS will still try to get late-filed petitions dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, but now the late-filing taxpayer will be able to argue that they are entitled to equitable tolling of the filing deadline.
The Court did not determine whether Boechler was entitled to equitable
tolling, leaving it up to the lower courts to do so upon remand.
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