USTCP Defined




Alexander Hamilton
First Treasury Secretary

THE U.S. TAX COURT PRACTITIONER DEMYSTIFIED

Required reading for all Non-attorney bar applicants

"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, and subsequently, who is in receipt of a Notice of Determination or Notice of Liability issued by the IRS that so demands satisfaction for the 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."
  • been "admitted to practice" by the U.S. Tax Court Office of Admissions
The newly-approved USTCP, who successfully completes the "Apprenticeship/Litigation  components in the US Tax Court Trial Practice Program administered at Harvard by the Tax Law Institute, is so designated, "Certified US Tax Court Litigator," after one year of practice. The certification affirms the preparedness and skills-set of an USTCP to competently take a case from petition-to-trial and achieve the best possible outcome for the taxpayer-client. State-licensed Attorneys engaged in "Federal Tax Practice" may also apply to obtain this 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 Tax Law Institute's Non-attorney Exam Preparation Program is described as "one of the best available..." The training is led by a Distinguished U.S. Tax Court Judge who sat on the bench for 20 years. He is assisted by a Law Professor Emeritus and CPA-USTCP. The generally accepted belief is that if a sitting U.S. Tax Court judge actually oversees the writing of the Non-attorney Exam questions then another U.S. Tax Court judge should be the best person to explain the Court's testing methodology in the questions. The Tax Law Institute manages the only Tax Court bar preparation program that includes an U.S. Tax Court judge among its tutorial staff. Why not invest yout time and money wisely and get the best preparatory training to pass?

  • Who may qualify by the U.S. Tax Court Office of Admissions to apply to become an USTCP?
    • Traditionally, the U.S. Tax Court Office of Admissions has so qualified individuals who hold following designations:
      • EA
      • CPA
      • PA
      • M. Tax
      • LLM Taxation
      • JD
      • Anyone who deems him/herself prepared to pass the Examination, and is so approved by the Office of Admissions of the U.S. Tax Court, may apply.


  • How long does it take to get the U.S. Tax Court's approval to practice as an USTCP?
    • With proper information and training, it would take an applicant about 18 months to become an USTCP. Usually, 12 months are required to study the exam materials and prepare. And then, there is a 5-6 month waiting period after the Exam for the test-takers' grades to be reported by the examiners to the Court, and for official notices to be mailed to and received the by 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 ("trial court" aka "lower court") or argue a case in the U.S. Court of Appeals.
    • USTCPs may not offer or provide "legal advice," nor discuss with any taxpayer any legal matters that go beyond the scope of federal tax controversies, by statute, that fall under the jurisdiction of the IRS or U.S. Tax Court.
    • USTCPs may not practice before any other Federal, State or local tribunal, unless acting pro se (self-represented).
    • USTCPs may not ever  use the terms, "Lawyer," "Counselor or Counselor-at-Law," or "Attorney or Attorney-at-Law" to designate themselves. However, USTCPs are permitted to use the term "Counsel." Depending on where they practice, there could arise an objection from local attorneys licensed in the jurisdiction. Nevertheless, the U.S. Tax Court does not frown upon the use of the "Counsel" designation by the USTCP within its proceedings, especially where the USTCP in his/her capacity as signatory, includes a bar registration number in all documents submitted in behalf of the taxpayer's docketed case.

  • Can someone make a good living as an USTCP? What if one were both a EA-USTCP or CPA-USTCP?
    • Absolutely! Both EA- and CPA-USTCPs can earn $40,00 - $60,00 in supplemental annual income while engage in a shared practice in tax accountancy and tax litigation.
    • Both EA- and CPA-USTCPs can earn $60,000 - $120,000 in supplemental 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 may earn up to $250,000-$300,000 in annual (or more), depending on their specialty and locality.

  • What would the typical duties and responsibilities of a CPA-USTCP whose not so ambitious?
    • The CPA-USTCP would usually prepare business taxes and represent taxpayers before the IRS and in U.S. Tax Court, if a client decides to challenge an IRS determination.

  • How much does a 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 representation.

  • What about EA-USTCPs and 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 also admitted to a State Bar, can earn up to $350,000 (EA-USTCPs) annually, and $450,000 (CPA-USTCPs) annually as a solo practitioner, or as an associate or "of Counsel" in law or accounting firms with Federal Tax Practice or Federal Tax Litigation sections.
    • Visit http://www.ustaxcourtlitigators.org

  • What about USTCPs who want to be employed by a law or accounting firm with Federal Tax practice and litigation sections?
    • The Tax Law Institute is developing a job placement program through on-going discussions with some the nation's leading professional accounting and law firms. A list of participating organizations within the private sectors will publish shortly to this Website. Contact our interim Human Resource Coordinator at 1.800.513.1513.   
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