Tax Insights

Your Guide to State, Local, Federal, Estate + International Taxation

Assessing Your Assessment the Wrong Way

Tax assessments are formally recorded on a record of assessment in accordance with Internal Revenue Code Section 6203.  The assessment is made by an assessment officer signing the summary record of assessment per Treasury Regulation section 301.6203-1.  The summary record of assessment must “provide identification of the taxpayer, the character of the liability assessed, the taxable period, if applicable, and the amount of the assessment”.  The date of the assessment is the date the summary record is signed. 

An argument deemed frivolous by I.R.S. is that such assessments are invalid because the taxpayer did not get a copy of a Form 23C used in the process and that Form 23C is not personally signed by the Secretary of the Treasury.  Or that a form used other than form 23C is not a valid record of assessment.

IRS refutes these arguments by pointing out that there is no requirement in that statute or regulation that the assessment be recorded on a specific form, that the Secretary of the Treasury personally sign it, or that the taxpayer be provided with a copy of the record of assessment before the IRS takes collection action.  In March v. IRS (10th Cir. 2003) the court held that the computer-generated certificate of assessment and payment form utilized by the IRS to make assessment against the taxpayers satisfied the regulatory requirements because the computer-generated form contained the same information as the non-computer-generated form previously used and was signed by the assessment officer.  And there are other similar cases with similar outcomes.

Dale Jensen, CPA