Whose Postmark Matters?

In Arbor Crossings Apt LLC v Twp. of Muskegon, an unpublished Michigan Court of Appeals opinion, the Plaintiff sought to file a petition with the Michigan Tax Tribunal.  The relevant statute provides that a petition is considered filed if "The petition is postmarked by the United States postal service on or before May 31 of the year.  The petition was mailed to the Tax Tribunal.  It bore a postal machine postmark of May 31, and a USPS postmark dated June 1.  The Tax Tribunal dismissed the petition as untimely.

On appeal, the petitioner argued that the postal machine postmark should be treated as the date for purposes of the statute.  The Court of Appeals disagreed, holding that the statute unambiguously treats the word postmarked as a verb in the phrase postmarked by the United States postal service, and thus the postmark must have been applied by the United States postal service.  Because the mark applied by the United States postal service was June 1, the petition was untimely.

© Steve Sowell 2017