Recently, the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission dismissed the appeal of a taxpayer's claim for refund of sales and use tax because it was not timely filed. The appeal, which was mailed within the 60-day period to appeal, named the Commission as the addressee stating the Commission's address. However, the envelope in which it was sent was addressed to the Department of Revenue and wasn’t delivered to the Commission until July 28, 2010, 61 days after the taxpayer received the decision denying its original claim. In other words, one day late.
The taxpayer did not transmit its complaint by certified mail to the Commission; it transmitted the complaint by certified mail to the Director. The Commission is a neutral, independent agency that is separate from the Department of Revenue. Because the complaint was not transmitted by certified mail to the Commission, it was not filed until the Commission received it on July 28, 2010, and therefore, was not timely. (Associated Fire Protection v. Director of Revenue, Administrative Hearing Commission, Dkt. No. 10-1449 RS, 09/02/2010 .)
While I normally support the judgment of the jurisdictions in matters of “form over substance”, in this case I believe the Commission should/could have used discretion in affording the taxpayer the right to appeal. It is important to acknowledge that form over substance normally favors the taxpayer as much as it does the state. However, jurisdictions will hold taxpayers accountable when they don’t employ reasonable and prudent inquiry when accepting a certificate of resale. It seems to me that under the circumstances outlined in the above matter, the jurisdiction should have been reasonable and employed some common sense in its determination – and concluded that the taxpayer met the requirements of the appeals process.
Chalk it up to another example of reduced leniency as a result of enhanced sales tax collection efforts.