April 21, 2022

Supreme Court Decides Boechler, P.C. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue

On April 21, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Boechler, P.C. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, No. 20-1472, holding that the 30-day period to petition for review of an IRS Independent Office of Appeals’ decision is a nonjurisdictional deadline subject to equitable tolling.

The IRS assessed tax penalties against Boechler, P.C., a North Dakota law firm, and proposed to collect them through a levy on Boechler’s property. Thirty-one days after the IRS’s Independent Office of Appeals upheld the levy, Boechler petitioned for review by the Tax Court. The Tax Court dismissed Boechler’s petition because 26 U.S.C. § 6330(d) required it to be filed within 30 days. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, finding that the “filing deadline is jurisdictional and thus cannot be equitably tolled.”

The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the 30-day time limit to petition the Tax Court “is an ordinary, nonjurisdictional deadline subject to equitable tolling.” The Court explained that there are many “nonjurisdictional 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. Although the statute does refer to the Tax Court’s authority over other kinds of proceedings, the Court stated that a statutory provision “does not become jurisdictional simply because it is placed in a section of a statute that also contains jurisdictional provisions.”

The Court further held that, as a nonjurisdictional deadline, the 30-day deadline is subject to equitable tolling because “6330(d)(1) does not expressly prohibit equitable tolling, and its short, 30-day time limit is directed at the taxpayer, not the court.” The Court remanded for a determination of whether Boechler is entitled to equitable tolling in this case.

Justice Barrett delivered the unanimous opinion of the Court.

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