For pro se litigants, attorneys & non-attorney practitioners "Admitted to Practice, U.S. Tax Court"
The United States Tax Court is a court of record established by Congress under Article I of the U.S. Constitution. When the Commissioner of Internal Revenue has determined a tax deficiency, the taxpayer may dispute the deficiency in the Tax Court before paying any disputed amount.
The Tax Court’s jurisdiction also includes the authority to redetermine transferee liability, make certain types of declaratory judgments, adjust partnership items, order abatement of interest, award administrative and litigation costs, redetermine worker classification, determine relief from joint and several liability on a joint return, review certain collection actions, and review awards to whistleblowers who provide information to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue on or after December 20, 2006.
Judges of The Tax Court is composed of 19 presidentially appointed members. Trial sessions are conducted and other work of the Court is performed by those judges, by senior judges serving on recall, and by special trial judges. All of the judges have expertise in the tax laws and apply that expertise in a manner to ensure that taxpayers are assessed only what they owe, and no more. Although the Court is physically located in Washington, D.C., the judges travel nationwide to conduct trials in various designated cities.
A case in the Tax Court is commenced by the filing of a petition. The petition must be timely filed within the allowable time. The Court cannot extend the time for filing which is set by statute.
A $60 filing fee must be paid when the petition is filed. Once the petition is filed, payment of the underlying tax ordinarily is postponed until the case has been decided.
In certain tax disputes involving $50,000 or less, taxpayers may elect to have their case conducted under the Court's simplified small tax case procedure. Trials in small tax cases generally are less formal and result in a speedier disposition. However, decisions entered pursuant to small tax case procedures are not appealable.
Cases are calendared for trial as soon as practicable (on a first in/ first out basis) after the case becomes at issue. When a case is calendared, the parties are notified by the Court of the date, time, and place of trial. Trials are conducted before one judge, without a jury, and taxpayers are permitted to represent themselves if they desire. Taxpayers may be represented by practitioners admitted to the bar of the Tax Court.
The vast majority of cases are settled by mutual agreement without the necessity of a trial. However, if a trial is conducted, in due course a report is ordinarily issued by the presiding judge setting forth findings of fact and an opinion. The case is then closed in accordance with the judge's opinion by entry of a decision.
Tax cases may also be brought in Federal district courts and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. But the disputed amounts must be paid beforehand. Only licensed attorneys, in good standing, admitted to practice within a State or territorial jurisdiction, are eligible to represent taxpayers who choose these forums. United States Tax Court Practitioners are not eligible to represent taxpayers in these forums and may be prosecuted for unauthorized practice of law should any one of them attempt to do so. However, U.S. Tax Court Practitioners may act as tax practitioner consultants and assist the licensed attorney in researching and developing his or her tax litigation case appealed to U.S. District Court or scheduled with U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
Trial – You do not have a right to a jury trial in Tax Court. A
single Judge, paid by the United States Government, will decide your case.
Discovery – The discovery rules are less broad in a Tax Court
case and you generally do not have the right to depose government witnesses.
Judges – Tax Court judges are typically very intelligent people
with many years of training and experience in federal tax matters.
Stipulation of Facts
Required – The parties are required, prior to trial, to
voluntarily share information with one another and work together to formulate a
thorough and complete stipulation of the facts of the case.
Briefing – Unlike civil appeals courts where parties brief the
Judges about the facts and law of the case prior to the trial, the Tax Court
does not allow pre-trial briefings. Instead, Tax Court rules require that the
taxpayer and the IRS file their briefs at the close of trial after the
factual issues have been argued before the Judge.
The following is reprinted from the Tax Attorney Blog and is just plain good advice:
"If you intend to take your case before a Tax Court Judge, you had better
thoroughly understand and comply with these rules [U.S. Tax Court Rules of Practice and Procedure].
It is very dangerous to have just a little knowledge about the Tax Court
For instance, with respect to the Stipulation of Facts, it could be fatal to
agree to any factual stipulation proposed by government counsel without fully
understanding how the admission of that fact will affect the tax treatment of an
item in dispute.
We have seen taxpayers admit seemingly innocent facts only to have it come
back to haunt them later when the Judge issues his or her final decision."
"Tax Court Cases are won in the preparation
before trial not at the trial itself.
There are no Perry Mason moments in Tax Court.
A good tax lawyer will prepare the case so that there are no surprises – none
for the taxpayer, none for the Judge and, most importantly, none for
This level of preparation requires an almost rote memorization of the facts
and their bearing on the issues involved.
The best tax lawyers, by virtue of meticulous preparation and a complete
command of the facts and the issues, put a lot of pressure on IRS counsel to
settle the case in a manner favorable to the taxpayer rather than risk taking
the case to trial and losing.
No lawyer wants to be on the losing end of a published Tax Court case."
Please visit http://www.ustaxcourt.gov/press/043008.pdf to learn more about the criteria for admission to practice for non-attorneys. You may also telephone the U.S. Tax Court Admissions Office at (202) 521-4629 during weekdays, 9 A.M. - 4 P.M. to inquire about admission to the Federal Bar or admission standards.