Considering the scope of the reasonable cause language to the Code Sec. 6699 penalty for late filing of an S corporation return, the Tax Court determined that the failure to timely file a 2008 2008 1120-S tax return was due to reasonable cause not subject to penalty in Ensyc Technologies v. Comm’r, T.C. Summary 2012-55 (6/14/12).
The following are the facts as I understand:
1. Ensyc Technologies, an S corporation operated entirely by its president who works from his home in Idaho with the assistance of subcontractors, had its tax returns prepared by an accountant in Nevada.
2. Ensyc’s annual tax return for 2008 was due March 16, 2009.
3. On March 10, 2009, Ensyc’s accountant sent Ensyc IRS Form 1120S, U.S. Income Tax Return for an S Corporation, to file with the IRS. The accountant also sent copies of Schedules K-1, Shareholder’s Share of Income, Deductions, Credits.
4. Ensyc’s files contained a copy of a Form 1120S bearing the President’s signature dated March 16, 2009.
5. The IRS has record receiving a Form 1120S from Ensyc on September 11, 2009 postmarked September 8, 2009.
6. The 1120-S form itself was dated February 24, 2009.
7. Code Sec. 6699 basically states that an S corporation not timely filing its annual tax return is liable for a per-shareholder penalty for every month the tax return is late up to 12 months. However the penalty is not imposed if the failure to timely file the return is due to reasonable cause.
8. On the theory that the Form 1120S it received on September 11, 2009, was the only Form 1120S Ensyc had filed for tax year 2008, the IRS assessed a $6,408 late-filing penalty.
9. On February 1, 2010, Ensyc requested a collection-review hearing with the Office of Appeals regarding levy action.
10. The IRS Office of Appeals determined that Ensyc did not timely file a Form 1120S nor did it have reasonable cause for failing to timely file the form and sustained the levy.
11. Ensyc took the case to the Tax Court, arguing that it was not liable for the late-filing penalty because it mailed a Form 1120S on March 16, 2009.
12. The Tax Court examined the possible explanations for why the IRS had no record of receiving the Form 1120S and essentially determined that the tax return was not timely mailed.
13. The Tax Court then considered whether there was reasonable cause for not filing the form on time noting that no judicial opinion had yet considered the scope of the reasonable cause exception to the Code Sec. 6699 penalty.
14. The court applied the ordinary-business-care-and-prudence test from IRC 6651 concluding that Ensyc exercised ordinary business care and prudence in its efforts to timely file its Form 1120S for 2008.
15. The Tax Court specifically noted that the President routinely mailed Ensyc’s tax returns on time. Further he mailed the Schedules K-1 to Ensyc’s shareholders and that an Ensyc shareholder filed an annual individual income-tax return on April 15, 2009 reflecting the shareholder’s pass through loss.
16. The court believed the President’s testimony that he thought he had mailed the 2008 Form 1120S on March 16, 2009. As a result, the court found that Ensyc’s failure to timely file a Form 1120S for the 2008 tax year was due to reasonable cause and, thus, Ensyc was not liable for the Code Sec. 6699 penalty.
17. It was also noted that pursuant to INTERNAL REVENUE CODE SECTION 7463(b), this opinion may not be treated as precedent for any other case.
I think the lesson learned here is to file on time and avoid the penalty.