Court Practice

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Reprinted excerpts Courtesy of U.S. Tax Court

Who may practice in the U.S. Tax Court?


Practice before the United States Tax Court is restricted to state-licensed attorneys who are members in good standing of a state bar and who upon request are admitted to practice in the Court. The applying attorney must submit a Certificate of Good Standing validating no disciplinary action within the previous 30 days in the licensing jurisdiction. The qualifying attorney is then "Admitted to Practice, U.S. Tax Court".

(Nonattorneys) United States Tax Court Practitioners

Nonattorney CPAs, EAs and other professional, or lay persons, who are "Admitted to Practice, U.S. Tax Court" must have passed the U.S. Tax Court Nonattorney Examination, a qualifying half-day federal bar examination administered every other year in Washington DC.

Before they can be, "Admitted to Practice, U.S. Tax Court," successful nonattorney test-takers must also be deemed "to be in good standing" by the FBI.

What is the Nonattorney Examination and what is its purpose?

The Nonattorney Exam is a written examination. The Nonattorney Exam may include essay questions and may include short answer questions, e.g. multiple choice.

The Nonattorney Exam is held every two years in Washington DC. The time and place of the Nonattorney Exam is publicly announced at least 6 months before the date of administration. The Announcement is posted during the month of June at the U.S. Tax Court website,

The purpose of the Nonattorney Exam is to test the abilities of applicants to represent parties in the preparation and trial of cases (both "s" cases and "Regular" cases) heard before the U.S. Tax Court

What subjects are tested on the Nonattorney Examination?

Evidence (25%)
  • "Federal Rules of Evidence applied in U.S. Tax Court

Legal Ethics (aka "Conduct") (10%)
  • ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct

Rules of Practice and Procedures (25%)

Substantive Tax Law (aka "Federal Taxation") (40%)
  • Income Taxation
  • Taxation of Gifts and Estates
  • Tax Procedures and Legal Analysis
  • The structure and history of the Internal Revenue Code, as amended, and the general subject of the revenue laws and the interpretation placed thereon by the Court in leading cases.
  • The constitutional and general substantive law applicable to Tax Court cases.
  • Notable published Opinions written by judges of the U.S. Tax Court during 2019 thru 2020 

What approved designations can someone use if they become an USTCP?

Please take note that nonattorney admission to the US Tax Court does not, confer attorney status nor permit the newly-admitted USTCP to hold him/herself out as a "practitioner of law" or "counselor of law" (both State-licensed individuals and members of a State Bar), or "legal scholar" (e.g. "law professor").

Such designations require the individual to be licensed and admitted to a State bar (attorney/counselor) or graduated from a law school (lawyer) with a Juris Doctor (JD) degree (American) or LLB (foreign) equivalent, or "law professor" ("legal scholar") appointed to teach or conduct research by a President, Dean, or Board of Trustees of a law school approved by a State Bar or an equivalent authority (foreign or domestic).

However, admission to the Tax Court bar does permit the successful applicant to use the designations "United States Tax Court Practitioner" or "Tax Litigation Counsel," or simply, "Counsel" (although some members of the ABA frown upon the use of this term).

Recently, coming into common use is the designation, "Member of the Bar, United States Tax Court" when USTCPs represent taxpayers (e.g. individuals, businesses, trusts, estates, etc.). Subsequently, it is now widely accepted practice that the USTCP may use the designation, "Counsel" and his/her bar registration number in his/her signatory when submitting documents for a docketed case in any of the 50 states or US territories, or wherever the Court holds sessions.

United States Tax Court Practitioners (USTCPs) and state-licensed attorneys must qualify to use the designation, "Certified U.S. Tax Court Litigator." Such certification asserts the preparedness and litigation skills-set of a United States Tax Court Practitioner or Attorney engaged in Federal Tax Practice (admitted on request to practice in the U.S. Tax Court) to competently take a case from petition-to-post-trial, and achieve the best possible outcomes for the petitioner-taxpayer-client.

The designation, "Certified U.S. Tax Court Litigator," is a registered trademark and property of the Tax Law Institute, an IRS-Approved Provider of Continuing Professional Education in Federal Tax Law and U.S. Tax Court Trial Practice. All trademark infringements will be aggressively prosecuted and enforced.

Who are eligible applicants for the Nonattorney Exam? Should applicants have prior legal training?

  • IRS Enrolled Agent
  • CPA
  • Ms. Tax
  • J.D.
  • LL.M.
  • anyone who deems him/her self eligible to test and is so qualified by the Court

No prior legal training is required. Applicants are prepared for admission and practice at the Tax Law Institute.

Who is eligible to become a Certified U.S. Tax Court Litigator?

The E.A., CPA, Ms. Tax, LL.M., J.D. or state-licensed attorney, all of whom are "Admitted to Practice, U.S. Tax Court" and designated, "Certified U.S. Tax Court Litigator" by the Tax Law Institute. The USTCP may use the designation professionally, upon approvals issued by the Tax Law Institute, and after one year of practice.

Such certification affirms the preparedness and litigation-skills set of a United States Tax Court Practitioner et al., to competently take a case from petition-to-post-trial, and achieve the best possible outcomes for the petitioner-taxpayer client.

Cartoon Courtesy 2009

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