United States Tax Court Decision for the Week – You be the Judge

A recent Tax Court decision was reported that may be of interest to individuals potentially dealing with tax litigation. J. Frank Best, Certified Public Accountant and United States Tax Court Practitioner, works to stay current on all IRS decisions concerning tax litigation to ensure we are fully informed and prepared for our clients.

The Tax Court held that an individual couldn’t challenge his underlying tax liability under Internal Revenue Code Section 6330(c)(2)(B)based on his failure to receive a notice of deficiency, finding that he declined to check his mail and retrieve the notice that the IRS attempted to send him by certified mail.

The IRS sent Eric Onyango a notice of deficiency for tax years 2006 and 2007 by certified mail to his legal address. The U.S. Postal Service attempted to deliver the notice and left notifications of its attempted delivery. However, Onyango admittedly failed to check his mail at that address even though he was there 30 to 40 percent of the time. Therefore, he didn’t receive the notice of deficiency, and it was returned to the IRS. The IRS eventually made determinations to proceed with collection actions against Onyango for his unpaid taxes, and he petitioned the Tax Court, claiming that he was entitled to challenge his underlying tax liability for tax year 2006 under section 6330(c)(2)(B) because he didn’t receive a notice of deficiency.

The United States Tax Court, in an opinion by Judge Carolyn P. Chiechi, held that Onyango wasn’t entitled to challenge the liability. The court found that although he was at the address at least some of the time during the period when the post office attempted delivery, he declined to check his mail. The court further found that he failed to do so even though he knew that the IRS was considering adjustments to his taxes and had communicated that it would send him a notice of deficiency. Chiechi concluded, “We hold that petitioner may not decline to retrieve his Postal Service mail, when he was reasonably able and had multiple opportunities to do so, and thereafter successfully contend that he did not receive for purposes of section 6330(c)(2)(B) the 2006-2007 notice of deficiency.”

ERIC ONYANGO, Petitioner v.


142 T.C. No. 24