US Supreme Court rules late tax petitions for due process determinations subject to equitable tolling
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US Supreme Court rules late tax petitions for due process determinations subject to equitable tolling

The US Supreme Court Thursday ruled in Boechler v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue that the 30-day time limit for taxpayers to seek review from the Tax Court of “collection due process” determinations is a nonjurisdictional deadline that can be equitably tolled.

On January 12, 2022, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case. During oral arguments, the Supreme Court justices appeared skeptical of the government’s argument that a tax code deadline barred a day late challenge to an IRS levy.

Multiple justices commented that the government’s case could be undermined by the many plausible statutory interpretations of a 30-day deadline. Justice Brett Kavanaugh said: “[T]he fact that a North Dakota Law Firm, Boechler, P.C., advanced reasonable arguments could in itself undermine the government’s position.”

On Thursday, the Supreme Court held that the 30-day limit to file a petition for review in the Tax Court of a notice of determination from the commissioner of internal revenue in 26 USC § 6330(d)(1) is a non jurisdictional deadline subject to equitable tolling. Justice Barrett delivered the unanimous opinion of the court.

The court explained that there are many “non jurisdictional rules” that “promote the orderly progress of litigation but do not bear on a court’s power.” For the “jurisdictional label” to apply, Congress must “clearly state” that a rule is intended to be jurisdictional. The statute does not say that as to the 30-day deadline.

On Thursday, the court also issued rulings in City of Austin v. Reagan National Advertising, United States v. Vaello-MaderoBrown v. Davenport, and Cassirer v. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation.