Fred Schonfeld



In October 1997, the taxpayer filed his 1996 New Mexico personal income tax return showing a refund due of $258.  The refund was based, in part, on an estimated payment the taxpayer had made in April 1997.  Because the taxpayer did not write his social security number on his check, the Department did not credit the estimated payment to the taxpayer’s account.  As a result, instead of granting the taxpayer’s request for refund of 1996 taxes, the Department assessed him for $2,442 of additional tax, plus penalty and interest.  The taxpayer does not recall receiving the assessment, but acknowledged that he made no inquiry as to why his refund had not been granted, nor did he protest the Department’s failure to act on his refund claim.  After receiving a billing notice in July 2003, the taxpayer consulted with his accountant, who discovered that the taxpayer’s estimated payment had not been credited to his account.  The Department applied the payment correctly and sent the taxpayer a letter stating that his $258 claim for refund had been denied.  The taxpayer protested the denial letter.  The hearing officer held that the taxpayer could not recover the $258 refund because he had not taken any action to challenge the Department’s failure to grant or deny his claim within the time period provided in Section 7-1-26 NMSA 1978.?