A Stamps.com postage label was a “postmark” not made by the United States Postal Service for purposes of the mailbox rule. A Stamps.com label is the modern equivalent of the output of an old-fashioned postage meter. There was no plausible basis for making a legally significant distinction between the two methods of affixing postage.
Generally, the “mailbox rule” provides that a timely-mailed petition timely is timely filed. For petitions with a USPS postmark the rule is easy, the postmark date is the date the petition was filed. For petitions with non-USPS postmarks, the rules look at how long it takes to receive a non-USPS postmarked item in contrast to an item deposited with and postmarked by the USPS. A petition without a USPS postmark is considered filed on the “postmark” date only if it is received within the same amount of time it would take an item postmarked by the USPS. If it takes longer, the postmark date is disregarded unless the taxpayer can establish: (1) the item was deposited on or before the last day for filing; (2) the postal service was responsible for any delay in transmitting the item; and (3) the cause of the delay.
The Stamps.com label at issue complied with the rules for non-postal service postmarks. It had a legible date, which was on or before filing deadline, and the envelope containing the petition was received by the Tax Court within the expected time. Further, the taxpayers’ representative averred and the IRS agreed the envelope was deposited in the U.S. mail on or before the filing deadline. Therefore, the mailing satisfied the mailbox rule and the IRS’s motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction was denied.
A full court reviewed opinion, following R.H. Tilden, CA-7, 2017-1 ustc ¶50,130.
L.C. Pearson, 149 TC —, No. 20, Dec. 61,083