Representation in Tax Court F.A.Q.

Representation before the Tax Court Frequently Asked Questions


Does the United States Tax Court specialize in just federal tax cases?

The United States Tax Court is a federal court of record for hearing appeals of disputes concerning federal tax returns. I.R.C. § 7441 provides that:

There is hereby established, under article I of the Constitution of the United States, a court of record to be known as the United States Tax Court. The members of the Tax Court shall be the chief judge and the judges of the Tax Court. The Tax Court is not an agency of, and shall be independent of, the executive branch of the Government.

Is there a US Tax Court in every state?

There is only one US Tax Court and it is located at 400 Second Street in Washington, D.C.; however, judges of the Tax Court will “ride circuit” and visit many cities in the US in a given year. The Tax Court is made up of 19 judges who each serve a 15-year term. The current Chief Judge is Maurice B. Foley.

How does a case end up before US Tax Court?

In order for the US Tax Court to hear your case, you need a “ticket to Tax Court”, this comes in the form of a statutory notice of deficiency (sometimes called the “90-day letter”), a notice of determination, or a notice of certification. A taxpayer must timely file a petition and the tax laws are very strict on filing deadlines (there is no opportunity for an extension of these dates). In a deficiency case, the petition must be filed by the 90th day (or the 150th day if the notice is addressed to a person outside the United States) from the date of the mailing of the notice of deficiency. In a collection action, the petition must be filed within 30 days of the mailing of the notice of determination.

Is there such a thing as a tax court lawyer or tax court law firm, or can any lawyer appear before the court?

Lawyers who represent clients before the US Tax Court must be admitted to practice before the Court. Unlike U.S. District Court, where a taxpayer must pay the deficiency and sue for a refund, in Tax Court the taxpayer does not have to pay the disputed tax amount have their case heard.

Are all tax court cases the same, or are there different kinds?

Small tax case procedures may be available for cases where the amount in controversy is less than $50,000. Proceedings are more informal in S cases but they are not appealable by either the taxpayer or the IRS. If no small tax cases procedures are elected or are unavailable, the case will be heard under the regular case rules. Regardless, the cases will require the filing of stipulations of facts, pre-trial memorandums, and often times, the submission of technical briefs and answering briefs. The IRS will have some of the best tax attorneys in the country representing them, you also need the best to protect your interests in the proceedings.

Are there special rules in the Tax Court?

Like any court, the Tax Court has its own set of rules. Those rules are set forth on their website under “Rules of Practice and Procedure”. In addition, the Tax Court is also subject to the Federal Rules of Evidence.

How can I find my case on the Tax Court website?

You can find your case (or any Tax Court case) directly on the Tax Court’s website by using the “Docket Search” function. If you are not a party to the case, or a representative, you will not be able to see every filing electronically. Though if you go the Tax Court in person, you may request a hard copy of filings that make up the public record.



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