Armstrong v. Commissioner

15 F.3d 970 (1994)

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Armstrong v. Commissioner

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
15 F.3d 970 (1994)

Facts

William Armstrong (plaintiff) used P.O. Box 35343 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as his address on his 1985, 1986, and 1989 federal tax returns. Armstrong used 4150 S. 100th E. Avenue as his 1987 return address and P.O. Box 74153 on his 1988 return. In auditing Armstrong’s 1985 and 1986 returns, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) mailed correspondence to 4150 S. 100th E. Avenue. However, Armstrong’s former tax preparer advised that this was his (the tax preparer’s) address, that he no longer represented Armstrong, and that Box 35343 was Armstrong’s address. The IRS then sent correspondence to Box 35343, to which Armstrong responded by describing Box 35343 as his current address and 4150 S. 100th E. Avenue as his former address and naming Paul Cecil as his attorney. Armstrong subsequently received IRS correspondence at Box 35343, but IRS correspondence to Box 35343 in December 1989 and January 1990 was returned as unclaimed. In December 1989, Cecil notified the IRS that he no longer represented Armstrong and gave 417 W. 7th Street as Armstrong’s address. In January 1990, the IRS commenced a separate audit of Armstrong’s 1987 return. The 1987 audit file stated that Armstrong’s address was 417 W. 7th Street. Meanwhile, the IRS learned that the Box 74153 address did not exist. After reviewing Armstrong’s file, the IRS concluded that Box 35343 was Armstrong’s address and sent 1985 and 1986 deficiency notices there in March 1990, which the post office returned. In August 1991, Armstrong petitioned the United States Tax Court for redetermination of the deficiencies. The IRS commissioner (defendant) moved to dismiss the petition as untimely because Armstrong did not file it within 90 days of when the IRS mailed the notices. Armstrong responded that the notices were invalid because the IRS did not mail them to his last known address, which in March 1990 allegedly was Box 74153. Armstrong also contended that the IRS knew that 4150 S. 100th E. Avenue and 417 W. 7th Street were possible addresses for him. The Tax Court dismissed Armstrong’s petition, ruling that the IRS reasonably concluded that Box 35343 was Armstrong’s last known address in March 1990. Armstrong appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Baldock, J.)

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