Edward C. and Susan R. Hanna - Page 7

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          will expire soon and requests that they sign and return a Form              
          872, Consent to Extend the Time to Assess Tax.  It also describes           
          petitioners’ rights, including their right to withhold consent.             
          The letter states:  “It may be considered that you have                     
          cooperated with the Internal Revenue Service, for purposes of               
          determining who has the burden of proof in any court proceeding,            
          even if you do not sign the consent form.”  Petitioners believe             
          that this constitutes a concession by respondent that he bears              
          the burden of proof.  We disagree.                                          
               In general, the Government must assess tax within 3 years              
          after the due date of a timely filed return.  Sec. 6501(a) and              
          (b)(1).  The Secretary and a taxpayer can consent to extend the             
          assessment period, but the Secretary must notify the taxpayer of            
          the taxpayer’s right to withhold such consent.  Sec.                        
          6501(c)(4)(A) and (B).  Respondent’s letter informs petitioners             
          of their rights, but it does not concede that respondent bears              
          the burden of proof.  Rather, it explains that withholding                  
          consent is not considered in deciding whether petitioners                   
          cooperated fully with reasonable requests for witnesses,                    
          documents, and other information.  The letter does not cause the            
          burden of proof to shift to respondent, and petitioners’ reliance           
          on the letter therefore is misplaced.                                       

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