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IRS Finally Extends Judicial and Refund Claim Filing Deadlines Because of COVID-19

Posted on Apr. 10, 2020

Today, Carl Smith brings us a quick analysis of the newest notice from the IRS on deadline extensions. This broad notice gives deadline relief in many areas. The post focuses on judicial and refund deadlines which are only a subset of the relief provided in the notice. Note that pre-judicial deadlines such as the 30-day period to make a CDP request should also be extended by this notice and that the look back refund provision in IRC 6511(b) may be impacted by this notice. This notice provides much relief that practitioners have been waiting for over the past few weeks. Thanks to the IRS for using its muscular power in 7508A broadly. Keith

Section 7508A allows the IRS to extend a number of deadlines because of Presidentially-declared disasters.  Most of the deadlines one thinks of involve filing tax forms, making elections, and paying taxes.  And, the IRS has been quick to issue a series of Notices under its authority because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Finally, though, in its latest expansive Notice 2020-23 extending even more tax deadlines because of COVID-19, the IRS got around to extending judicial and refund claim filing deadlines.  The extensions are for acts due to be performed on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020.

Reg. sec. 301.7508A-1(c)(1) allows the IRS to suspend the periods for:

(iv) Filing a petition with the Tax Court, or for review of a decision rendered by the Tax Court;

(v) Filing a claim for credit or refund of any tax;

(vi) Bringing suit upon a claim for credit or refund of any tax;

In Part III.A. of Notice 2020-23, 2020-18 I.R.B. 1, the IRS writes:

The Secretary of the Treasury has also determined that any person performing a time-sensitive action listed in either § 301.7508A-1(c)(1)(iv)-(vi) of the Procedure and Administration Regulations or Revenue Procedure 2018-58, 2018-50 IRB 990 (December 10, 2018), which is due to be performed on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020 (Specified Time-Sensitive Action), is an Affected Taxpayer.

In Part III.C. of the Notice, the IRS clarifies:

Affected Taxpayers also have until July 15, 2020, to perform all Specified Time-Sensitive Actions, that are due to be performed on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020. This relief includes the time for filing all petitions with the Tax Court, or for review of a decision rendered by the Tax Court, filing a claim for credit or refund of any tax, and bringing suit upon a claim for credit or refund of any tax. This notice does not provide relief for the time period for filing a petition with the Tax Court, or for filing a claim or bringing a suit for credit or refund if that period expired before April 1, 2020.

The last sentence of Part III.C. is a bit misleading, though. Even though the IRS does not extend the period in which to file a Tax Court petition for any period before April 1, 2020, the result of the Tax Court’s opinion in Guralnik v. Commissioner, 146 T.C. 230 (2016), should be that the period to file a Tax Court petition has been extended from the time the Tax Court Clerk’s Office closed on March 19, 2020, until the Tax Court Clerk’s Office reopens for business (a time that is at this point uncertain).

Practitioners should also be careful about the IRS extension: While it extends the time to file a refund claim under section 6511, bring a refund suit under section 6532(a), bring any Tax Court suit (under, for example, sections 6213(a), 6330(d)(1), or 6015(e)(1)(A)), and appeal a Tax Court case under section 7483, it does not extend the time to file an appeal of a district court refund suit judgment to a court of appeals under 28 U.S.C. sec. 2107, and it does not extend the times to file other kinds of tax suits in district courts, such as a wrongful levy suit under section 6532(c) or a suit for damages from wrongful collection under section 7433(d)(3).  Equitable tolling may be used to extend some of the other district court filing deadlines, but not in most Circuits.

The extension of the refund claim filing deadline probably affects the most taxpayers because, for individual filers, the period to file a refund claim for 2016 income taxes, which would, for most, have expired on April 15, 2020, is now put off for three months.

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