USTCP Defined

Alexander Hamilton
First Treasury Secretary


"USTCP" is the professional designation for an individual who has been examined and "admitted to practice" as an "United States Tax Court Practitioner." The USTCP is deemed to be a "Member of the Bar of the United States Tax Court." The USTCP may act as the "Representative" of any taxpayer, citizen or non-citizen, who owes a tax obligation to the United States Government. To enter U.S. Tax Court, the taxpayer must be in receipt of a Notice of Determination (NOD) or Notice of Liability (NOL), issued by the IRS that demands satisfaction for underpaid taxes. Specifically, an USTCP is an individual who has passed the United States Tax Court Non-attorney Examination, been investigated by the FBI and deemed to be a person in "good standing," and who has been approved to practice by the U.S. Tax Court Office of Admissions

How can a taxpayer evaluate the USTCP? Are they certified in any way?

Newly-approved USTCPs are designated "Certified US Tax Court Litigator," after one year of practice. However, to be eligible for such certification they must successfully complete the "Apprenticeship" or "Litigation" segment in the US Tax Court Trial Practice Program. The certification affirms the preparedness and skills-set of an USTCP to take a case from petition-through-post-trial, and achieve the best possible outcome for the petitioner-taxpayer client.

State-licensed Attorneys engaged in "Federal Tax Practice" may also apply to obtain the designation.

Where should one go to best prepare for the 2020 Non-attorney Examination?

There are several IRS-approved programs available to federally-authorized tax practitioners. All should prepare an applicant to pass the non-attorney examination. But yet, every Testing Cycle, news of the few who pass overshadow the woes of the  dozens who fail. The TLI Non-attorney Exam Preparation Program is described as " of the best available..." The training is led by a former U.S. Tax Court Special Trial Judge who sat on the bench for 20 years. He is assisted by an USTCP, CPAs, Federal tax scholars, and former U.S. Treasury Department and IRS special and enrolled agents. The generally accepted belief is that if a sitting U.S. Tax Court judge oversees the writing of the exam, then another U.S. Tax Court judge should be the best person to help bar applicants understand what the Examiners want to see in the applicants' answers. The Tax Law Institute manages the only U.S. Tax Court non-attorney bar preparation program that includes a former U.S. Tax Court Special Trial Judge among its faculty.

Who may qualify to the U.S. Tax Court Office of Admissions to become an USTCP?

Traditionally, the U.S. Tax Court Office of Admissions has qualified individuals who hold any one of the following designations:
  • EA
  • CPA
  • PA
  • M. Tax
  • LLM Taxation
  • JD
  • Anyone who deems him/herself prepared to pass the Examination, and is approved to test by the Office of Admissions of the U.S. Tax Court.

All candidates for admission to the United States Tax Court Bar are subject to the FBI background check.

How long does it take to get the U.S. Tax Court's approval to practice as an USTCP?

With proper training, it would take a first-time test-taker almost 18 months to become an USTCP. Twelve months are required to study, if one is taking the exam for the first time. (Otherwise, a repeat test-taker needs only four months prior to the test date.) And then, there is the 5-6 month waiting period after the exam for the grades to be reported to the Court, and for official notices to be mailed to test-takers.

Once approved for practice, what can USTCP's actually do?

United States Tax Court Practitioners are specifically authorized to counsel and represent taxpayers in the U.S. Tax Court in all administrative and legal proceedings.

What can USTCPs not do?

USTCPs may not take a tax case, decided unfavorably in the U.S. Tax Court to (aka lower or trial court), or argue a case in the U.S. Court of Appeals.  

USTCPs may not offer or provide "general legal advice," nor discuss with any taxpayer legal matters that go beyond the scope of federal taxation.

USTCPs may not practice in/before any other Federal, State or local court or tribunal, unless acting, pro se (self-represented).

USTCPs may not ever use the terms, "lawyer," "counselor," or "counselor-at-law." Nor may USTCPS refer to themselves as "attorney" or "attorney-at-law;" however, USTCPs are permitted to use the term "Counsel." The U.S. Tax Court does not frown upon the use of the "Counsel" designation by the USTCP. So, it is not unusual to view recorded documents where the USTCP, as signatory, includes the designation, "Counsel," along with his/her bar registration number.

Can someone make a good living as an USTCP? What if one were both an EA-USTCP or CPA-USTCP?

Absolutely! Both EA- and CPA-USTCPs can earn $40,000 - $60,000 in supplemental annual income while engage in a shared practice in tax accountancy and U.S. Tax Court litigation.

Both EA- and CPA-USTCPs can earn $60,000 - $120,000 in annual income if engaged in a full-time USTCP practice, utilizing their tax accountancy skills.

USTCPs who hold combined CPA and USTCP credentials are especially sought after. And if engaged in a full-time tax litigation practice, they may earn up to $250,000-$300,000 in annual income (or more), depending on their specialty and locality.

What would be the typical duties and responsibilities of an EA-USTCP or CPA-USTCP?

The EA-USTCP or CPA-USTCP would usually prepare business taxes, and represent taxpayer-clients before the IRS and in U.S. Tax Court. They earn on average $120,000-$150,000 annually.

How much does an EA-USTCP or CPA-USTCP charge?

Like any professional, as much as they can get by with. However, the Tax Law Institute research, gathered from among those individuals it has trained, indicates that the industry standard as of 2019 is approximately $125-$150 per hour for accounting tasks, and $175-$250 per hour for U.S. Tax Court counsel and representation. These numbers apply only to the newly-approved. The locality of the practitioner is also a factor.

What about EA-USTCPs or CPA-USTCPs who obtain law degrees?

Those EA- and CPA-USTCPs who hold the JD, and who are admitted as attorneys to a State Bar, may earn up to $300,000 (EA-USTCPs) and $400,000 (CPA-USTCPs) annually.

EA- and CPA-USTCPs who hold the JD/LLM, and who are admitted to a State Bar, can earn up to $350,000 (EA-USTCPs) annually; and $450,000 (CPA-USTCPs) annually, if associated with law firms engaged in Federal tax practice or tax litigation.

EA- and CPA-USTCPs who hold the Executive JD (does not qualify for State Bar admission) still hold a competitive advantage as their skills-set is not diminished. Their certified knowledge of the law, accountancy and litigation will suffice to secure for them high compensation, equal to, or just short of that earned by a JD holder eligible to sit for a State bar exam.

Tell me about USTax Court Who are they? What do they do?

US Tax Court® provides litigation and support services to Attorneys, CPAs, EAs and Non-Attorneys. They are assisted by a Washington DC Professor of Law and former US Tax Court Special Trial Judge, a CPA/USTCP, and a CPA/PhD (Bank Secrecy Act), plus a support staff of federally-authorized tax practitioners (FATPs) approved by the U.S. Treasury Department Internal Revenue Service. An US Tax Court Trial Attorney assist when needed. And a Member of the U.S. Tax Court Bar serves as General Counsel to both US Tax Court and its affiliate, Tax Law Institute. Various members of the Staff are admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Tax Court, and numerous United States District Courts throughout the United States and its territories.

US Tax Court Staff are composed of the top graduates of the US Tax Court Trial Practice Program, managed by The Tax Law Institute. USTCPS, Attorneys, and CPAs are invited to register with USTCL. Registered tax practitioners enjoy case referrals, and the provision of litigation support as well as participation in continuing education courses, at reduced fees.

Tagline: "If the matter concerns federal taxes and litigation then you should be talking to us"

What about USTCPs who want to be employed by a law or accounting firm engaged in Federal tax practice and litigation? How can they find out who's hiring?

The Tax Law Institute is developing a job placement program through on-going discussions with some the nation's leading law and professional accounting firms.   

Call 1.888.317.4489


"If you prepare with us and do not pass the 2020 Non-attorney Exam then you may repeat the Program, at no charge, during the 2022 Testing Cycle; however, you must pay for your own meals and accommodations where applicable."

Extended Office Hours
Mon - Sat: 09:00 AM - 07:00 PM