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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.

Tax Court Case

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 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 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.

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.  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.

3. 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.

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