Skip navigation links

Are you on the docket for U.S. Tax Court in Detroit?

If you have a pending U.S. Tax Court case, contact the Tax Clinic as soon as possible for assistance.


Appealing to the United States Tax Court


Tax Clinics around the country advocate and represent low-income taxpayers.  The U.S. Tax Court has a List of Participating Clinics that can assist you.

U.S. Tax Court Links

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.

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 a hearing for your case for that week.

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.