May 31, 2021 - Douglas Myser

Court holds claims not filed. The Court of Federal Claims held that taxpayers failed to duly file refund claims: the IRS could not waive the statutory taxpayer signature requirement, and therefore, the court lacked jurisdiction over the taxpayers complaint. George and Ruth Brown filed joint federal income tax returns for 2015 and 2017. The Browns signed both original returns electronically. In October 2018, the IRS received the Browns amended tax returns for 2015 and 2017, both claiming a refund. Neither amended return contained the Brown's signatures. Both were signed by their tax preparer but without an a accompanying Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative. In November 2018, the IRS notified the Brown's that it could not consider the 2015 refund claim due to incomplete supporting documentation. The preparer faxed to the IRS a Form 2848 purporting to represent George Brown for tax years 2014 through 2018, however Brown did not sign it. Court holds claims not filed.

In January 2019, the IRS received a second amended tax return for 2015, claiming the same refund amount. Again, the return did not contain Brown's signature but was signed by the preparer without a Form 2848. In April 2019, the IRS issued a letter to the Brown's proposing to disallow the 2015 and 2017 tax refunds. After requesting review by the Office of Appeals, the Browns filed a complaint wit the Court of Federal Claims, asserting a tax refund claim for 2015 and 2017 based on the foreign earned income exclusion under Sec. 911(a). The Brown's sought to recover federal income tax and interest paid during their employment in Australia.

The government moved to dismiss the claims, arguing the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the Brown's failed to verify, under penalty of perjury, the refund claims and failed to properly authorize a representative to sign the returns on their behalf. Eventually, the court granted the governments motion to dismiss the Brown's complaint as the Brown's failed to sign the 2015 and 2017 tax returns as required.