The Supreme Court reversed and remanded a Court of Appeals decision and held that Code Sec. 6330(d)(1)’s 30-day time limit to file a petition for review of a collection due process (CDP) determination is an ordinary, nonjurisdictional deadline subject to equitable tolling in appropriate cases. The taxpayer had requested and received a CDP hearing before the IRS’s Independent Office of Appeals pursuant to Code Sec. 6330(b), but the Office sustained the proposed levy. Under Code Sec. 6330(d)(1), the taxpayer had 30 days to petition the Tax Court for review. However, the taxpayer filed its petition one day late. The Tax Court dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction and the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed, agreeing that Code Sec. 6330(d)(1)’s 30- day filing deadline is jurisdictional and thus cannot be equitably tolled.
Nonjurisdictional Nature of Filing Deadline
The Supreme Court analyzed the text of Code Sec. 6330(d)(1) and stated that the only contention is whether the provision limits the Tax Court’s jurisdiction to petitions filed within the 30-day timeframe. The taxpayer contended that it referred only to the immediately preceding phrase of the provision: a “petition [to] the Tax Court for review of such determination.” and so the filing deadline was independent of the jurisdictional grant. The IRS, on the contrary, argued that “such matter” referred to the entire first clause of the sentence, which includes the deadline and granting jurisdiction only over petitions filed within that time. However, the Supreme Court held the nature of the filing deadline to be nonjurisdictional because the IRS failed to satisfy the clear-statement rule of the jurisdictional condition. It also stated that where multiple plausible interpretations exist, it is difficult to make the case that the jurisdictional reading is clear. Moreover, Code Sec. 6330(e)(1)’s clear statement—that “[t]he Tax Court shall have no jurisdiction . . . to enjoin any action or proceeding unless a timely appeal has been filed”—highlighted the lack of such jurisdictional clarity in Code Sec. 6330(d)(1).
Equitable Tolling of Filing Deadline
The Supreme Court remanded the case to the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to decide whether the taxpayer was entitled to equitable tolling of the filing deadline. However, the Supreme Court did emphasize that Code Sec. 6330(d)(1) did not expressly prohibit equitable tolling, and its 30-day time limit was directed at the taxpayer, not the court. Further, the deadline mentioned in the provision was not written in an emphatic form or with detailed and technical language, nor was it reiterated multiple times. The IRS’ argument that tolling the Code Sec. 6330(d)(1) deadline would create much more uncertainty, was rejected. The Supreme Court concluded that the possibility of equitable tolling for relatively small number of petitions would not appreciably add to the uncertainty already present in the process.