For taxpayers, timeliness is crucial for certain acts, such as filing a refund claim with the IRS within the statute of limitation period. A refund claim must set forth in detail each ground upon which a credit or a refund is claimed and include facts sufficient to apprise the IRS of the exact basis for it. Occasionally, a taxpayer may want to amend a previously filed refund claim after the refund limitation period. Certain factors dictate whether this supplemental claim—also referred to as a revised supplemental claim—is deemed to be an amendment to an existing claim, which may be allowed because it is based on the grounds established in a previous timely filed claim, or a new claim, which may be disallowed because it is after the period allotted for filing a refund claim for such items.
AMENDMENT OR NEW CLAIM?
Courts have generally established a two-part test for determining whether a supplemental claim is an amendment of an existing claim or a new claim. A supplemental claim is deemed to be an amendment to a properly filed refund claim (and permitted after the expiration of the statute of limitation period for filing the refund claim) if:
- The amendment is “germane” to the original claim; and
- The amendment is presented before the original claim is resolved (Andrews, 302 U.S. 517 (1938)).
Some courts analyze amendments to claims under two distinct doctrines: the general claim doctrine and the germaneness doctrine. The general claim doctrine may apply where (1) the taxpayer has filed a formal general claim within the limitation period and (2) an amendment is filed outside the limitation period that makes the general claim more specific. The germaneness doctrine may apply where (1) the taxpayer files a formal claim within the limitation period, making a specific claim, and (2) after the limitation period, but while the IRS still has jurisdiction over the claim, the taxpayer files a formal amendment raising a new legal theory (not specifically raised in the original claim) that is germane to the original claim. See Computervision Corp., 445 F.3d 1355 (Fed. Cir. 2006).
Taxpayers often want or need to supplement previously filed claims. They may discover errors that need correction, or discover opportunities for additional refunds. It is important, however, for taxpayers and their tax advisers to be mindful of the statute of limitation when filing supplemental claims because timing can affect the acceptability of the claim. If an amendment to a properly filed refund claim is filed after the IRC § 6511(a) statute of limitation period, it needs to be germane to the original claim and be presented before the original claim is resolved for the IRS to consider it timely.
For a detailed discussion of the issues in this area, see “Supplemental Claims: Acceptable Amendment or New Claim?” by John Keenan, Esq.; Rona Hummel, CPA; and Whitney Lessman, Esq., in the March 2011 issue of The Tax Adviser.
—Alistair M. Nevius, editor-in-chief
The Tax Adviser
Also look for articles on the following subjects in the March 2011 issue of The Tax Adviser:
- An update of state and local corporate tax developments.
- A discussion of gifts of partnership interests.
- An analysis of the conservation easement rules.
The Tax Adviser is the AICPA’s monthly journal of tax planning, trends and techniques. AICPA members can subscribe to The Tax Adviser for a discounted price of $85 per year. Tax Section members can subscribe for a discounted price of $30 per year. Call 800-513-3037 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for a subscription to the magazine or to become a member of the Tax Section.
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