Tax Court: Untimely CDP Petition Confers Jurisdiction for Interest Abatement Claim

In an opinion that may be instructive to tax practitioners reluctant to advance alternative theories for relief, the Tax Court held that it had jurisdiction to review the denial of a request for interest abatement that arose out of an untimely petition for review of a collection due process hearing.

The pro se petitioner had a collection due process hearing. In the hearing, petitioner challenged the underlying tax liability, renewed a claim for innocent spouse relief and requested abatement of interest. The Appeals Officer upheld the collection action against the petitioner in a written determination which also included a final determination as to petitioners request for interest abatement. Petitioner petitioned the Tax Court for review of the collection determination but failed to file the petition within the 30 day statute of limitations under Section 6330(d). Respondent filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. Petitioner appeared at the trial session to challenge respondent’s motion and raised the same claims in a hearing before the court that she raised in the appeals hearing. The Court heard petitioners claims and gave the parties an opportunity to brief the issue. On brief, petitioner once again raised all three claims that she made at the Office of Appeals.

Upon review of the parties’ arguments and the Appeals Officer’s case activity file, the Court found that it did not have jurisdiction to review the merits of the collection action and granted respondent’s motion to dismiss on that claim. However, the Court found that the final determination on the collection action also constituted a final determination as to petitioner’s request for interest abatement under Section 6404. The statute of limitations for review of a request for interest abatement is 180 days. The Court held that even though the petition was not timely to grant jurisdiction under Section 6330 it was timely as a request for review of an interest abatement and conferred jurisdiction upon the Court independent of the collection due process proceedings. The Court ordered further proceedings to determine whether respondent’s determination on the interest abatement claim was an abuse of discretion.

Read the opinion here:
Gray v. Commissioner, 138 T.C. No. 13 (2012)

3rd Circuit Reverses Tax Court on Innocent Spouse Statute of Limitations

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the Tax Court on the validity of Treas. Reg. 1.6015-5(b)(1) which establishes a two year statute of limitations for innocent spouse relief under IRC Sec. 6015(f). The Court of Appeals remanded to the Tax Court for a finding on the petitioner’s argument for an equitable tolling of the statute.

For more on this question, see the Lantz opinion out of the Seventh Circuit.

Mannella v. Commissioner, No. 10-1308 (3rd Cir. Jan. 19, 2011)

Tax Court Maintains that Reg. 1.6015-5(b)(1) is Invalid Interpretation

In a case appealable to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Tax Court maintains that Treas. Reg. 1.6015-5(b)(1) is an invalid interpretation of IRC 6015(f) in circuits other than the Seventh Circuit (where such a ruling was overturned in Lantz v. Commissioner).

Hall v. Commissioner, 135 T.C. No. 19 (2010)