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U.S. Tax Court 

The Tax Clinic can assist low-income taxpayers file a case in the U.S. Tax Court or assist those taxpayer who have already filed a petition.

U.S. Tax Court to be Held Via ZOOMGOV in 2021

The U.S. Tax Court has announced that all future calendar calls for Detroit, Michigan, will be held remotely via ZoomGov, which is computer conferencing software.  The Court has issued resources about the Court’s Zoomgov remote proceedings. The Court will continue holding hearing’s over ZoomGov until further notice. If you have a case before the U.S. Tax Court, contact us for more information and assistance with your case.

About the U.S. Tax Court  

Congress established the United States Tax Court under Article I of the U.S. Constitution. One advantage of appealing cases to the Tax Court over other federal courts is that the taxpayer may dispute a tax determination in the Tax Court before paying any disputed amount of tax, penalty or interest. The Tax Court’s jurisdiction also includes the authority to make certain types of declaratory judgments, order abatement of interest, award administrative and litigation costs, redetermine worker classification, determine relief from joint and several liability on a joint return, and review certain collection actions.

The Tax Court is composed of 19 presidentially appointed members. 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, including Detroit, Michigan.

A case in the Tax Court is commenced by the filing of a petition. The petition must be timely filed within the allowable time. Neither the IRS or the Tax Court can extend the time for filing a petition, which is dictated by statute.

The current filing fee to file a Petition is $60 and is paid at the time that the petition is filed. If you cannot afford the filing fee, you may request a waiver of the filing fee.  Once the petition is filed, payment of the underlying tax 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 appeasable.

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 (95%-99%) are settled by mutual agreement without the necessity of a trial.

U.S. Tax Court Debuts New Online Docket System Called DAWSON

Posted: 3/24/2021
By Robert Shockley

The U.S. Tax Court revamped its online docket system to better serve parties with cases before the Court.  Litigants may not electronically file all documents -- including petitions.  DAWSON also allows people to search the Court's electronic files for documents related to a case, court decisions, and the docket listing for case status updates. DAWSON is available at: https://ustaxcourt.gov/dawson.html.

Filing Your U.S. Tax Court Petition Electronically

Posted: 3/24/2021
By Robert Shockley

Before you begin the process of submitting your petition to the court electronically, please be aware of the following:

  1. File your petition well before the deadline. You may have received a notice in the mail from the Internal Revenue Service. The notice may show the last date to file or the number of days you have to file a petition. Your petition must be electronically filed no later than 11:59 pm Eastern Time on the last date to file.
  2. You will need to create an account with DAWSON before you will be able to submit your petition.  Enter your email, name, and password, then click sign up. You will receive an email with a link to verify your email address. (The complete DAWSON Petitioner Training Guide can be found here.)
  3. Complete the necessary documents:  A petition to the U.S. Tax Court comes in a "kit" format.  However, you will have to submit some of the pages of this kit, separately in the DAWSON system.  A full petition will include:
    a. Petition form
    b. Notice of Deficiency (with all reference to your Social Security Number blacked out on every page)
    c. Statement of Taxpayer Identification Number
    d. Place of Trial
    e. $60 filing fee or Application for Waiver of Filing Fee
* Once you have completed drafting the various forms for your U.S. Tax Court Petition, you must combine the petition with your notice from your IRS (if applicable, see step 7). Directions on how to combine multiple PDF files can be found here.

Submitting your petition to the U.S. Tax Court:

  1. Log in to your DAWSON account and select “Create a Case” button on your dashboard.
  2. Confirm your identity. You will be asked to upload a Statement of Taxpayer Identification Number. This is the only document that should contain your Social Security Number, Taxpayer Identification Number, or Employer Identification Number. This form is included in the taxpayer petition kit, or individually as Tax Court Form #4. Click the continue to Step 2 of 5 button.
  3. Once you have finished filling in your petition it is then upload your Petition. Your petition explains why you are challenging the IRS’s determination. (1) check the IRS Action you are disputing, (2) provide the date the IRS issued the notice and the city and state of the IRS office that issued the notice, (3) provide the period (tax year) for which the notices were issued, (4) if your case involves a dispute of $50,000 or less, you may elect to have your case conducted under the Court’s simplified small tax case procedure, otherwise selection “you want your case conducted under regular tax case procedures,” (5) explain why you disagree with the IRS determination in your case, and (6) State the facts upon which you rely on to dispute the IRS’s determination. Your Social Security Number or taxpayer ID numbers should NOT appear on your petition or your IRS notice. Do not attach any other documents such as tax returns, copies of receipts, or other types of evidence to your petition.
  4. The Tax Court will need a copy of the IRS Notice that notifies you of your right to appeal to U.S. Tax Court. This may be in the form of a Notice of Deficiency or a Notice of Determination.  Before you submit the notice to the Court, be sure to black out all references to your Social Security number on every page of the Notice.  Be careful because your Social Security Number will be on multiple pages.
  5. Select whether or not (yes or no) you received a notice from the IRS. If yes, select the type of IRS notice from the drop-down list that appears. If no, select the type of disagreement with the IRS from the drop-down list that most closely matches your complaint with the IRS. Once completed, click continue to step 3 of 5.
  6. Enter the Petitioner’s Information. Select the type of petitioner who is filing the petition (i.e. yourself, yourself and your spouse, a business, or an estate); enter the petitioner’s contact information in the “tell us about” section; then click the continue to step 4 of 5 button.
  7. Select the Under What Procedure You Would like Your Case to be Handled Under and your Trial I If your 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 appeasable to the U.S. Court of Appeals. If taxpayers select "Regular Case" procedures, then their case can be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
  8. Review the “About this Case” section for general Petition Information. Review the “Petitioner Contact Information” section to confirm petitioner information. Verify that the “Service Information” section displays your correct email address. Click the PDF links under “Attachments” to preview the documents you uploaded and ensure you did not forget to redact your Social Security number from all documents. Click the “Submit to U.S. Tax Court” button.
  9. Once your Petition is submitted, you will be assigned a docket number and will receive email notifications concerning any new filling and or deadlines in your case. Print out a copy of your Petition and docket number a retain them for your records. Any reference to your case will be by the docket number.

Training Video’s:

  1. DAWSON Training Seminar
  2. GOV Training Seminar’s

Tax Court Tips

1.  File your petition well before the deadline.  If you miss the deadline, you lose your right to appeal to the U.S. Tax Court.

2. Engage with the IRS to settle your case.  After you file your petition, the IRS will file an Answer.  In most cases, your case will be sent to IRS Appeals to attempt settlement.  If you already worked with IRS Appeals before you filed your U.S. Tax Court Petition, it will not be sent to Appeals.  However, the IRS will attempt to contact you to discuss your case and attempt to resolve it before trial.

3. Participate in pre-trial meetings with IRS Appeals or IRS Attorneys.  After you file your petition, your case may be assigned to IRS Appeals to try and settle the matter.  Or, if your case is not sent to IRS Appeals, an IRS attorney will contact you by phone and/or letter to discuss your case.

4. Participate in pretrial conference with the judge and opposing counsel. If your case does not settle, you will have to file a pretrial memo and have a telephone conference with the Tax Court judge assigned to your case and the IRS attorney assigned to your case.

5.  Arrive to court about 1 hour before the time in your notice to appear.  There is usually parking close to the federal courthouse, however, the line to get through security can take a while.

6. Bring the originals and two copies of all tax documents, receipts and supporting evidence that you want the Tax Court to review (this includes ALL documents you have already provided to the IRS).  The IRS WILL NOT provide any of your documents to the Tax Court.  You must submit all of your documents to the Tax Court yourself.

7. Be prepared to have your hearing later that day or early in the week.  The Court will spend the morning of the day you appear for your hearing going through all cases to determine which have settled and which must go to trial.  After that, the Court will schedule your hearing.

8. Be prepared for your hearing.  Most hearings will last between a half hour and one hour, depending on the complexity of the case. Determine what facts you want to tell the judge through documents and testimony that prove that you should be taxed as you assert.


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