Monday, October 26, 2015

Autism Spectrum Disorder No Excuse For Late Filing and Payment Penalty Abatement

Autism Spectrum Disorder No Excuse For Late Filing and Payment Penalty Abatement In Poppe v. Comm., TCM 2015-205 (2015), the taxpayer’s autism spectrum disorder (“ASD”) was held not to constitute reasonable cause for failure to file and pay. The Taxpayer was an active day trader. He argued that he had reasonable cause for failing to timely file his return because, as a result of his ASD, he became "despondent" from all of the money he had lost and could not organize himself to timely file a tax return. The Tax Court in its memorandum decision rejected that argument. First, the Court did provide that reasonable cause may exist if a taxpayer's or a family member's illness or incapacity prevents the taxpayer from filing his or her tax return. But the Tax Court went further to state that if the taxpayer is able to continue his or her business affairs despite the illness or incapacity, the excuse will not be sustained. In Poppe, the Taxpayer’s mental condition did not prevent him from engaging in activities that required a high degree of concentration and ability to analyze and organize information. Poppe's work station as a day trader was equipped with six monitors showing the status of his trades. He was able to collect, analyze, and organize information on which to base his trades. Thus, the Court reasoned, if he could attend to his affairs despite his ASD, he could file and pay his taxes timely. The Court did not state that ASD is no excuse generally. But under the facts and circumstances in Poppe, the Court would not sustain the excuse. Had the Taxpayer been so overcome by his ASD that he could not attend to his business affairs, the ASD would have provided reasonable cause for penalty abatement.

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