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United States Tax Court

October 16, 2023
Bill Kimball

The U.S. Tax Court issues two kinds of decisions, regular and memorandum. A “regular decision” are those that are presumed to have value as precedents or involve issues that have not previously been considered. Regular decisions are generally regarded as stronger authorities than memorandum decisions. It is also important to note that the IRS will issue an acquiescence or nonacquiescence only for regular decisions. A “memorandum decision” is issued when the chief judge believes that the case is primarily concerned with the application of existing law or an interpretation of the facts.

Either the petitioner or the respondent may take an appeal from an adverse decision of the Tax Court to the appropriate United States Court of Appeals. In the case of an appeal by the taxpayer, a bond is normally required in order to avoid enforcement action during the pendency of the appeal. Instead of taking an appeal, the Internal Revenue Service may issue an “Action on Decision” indicating the Commissioner’s “non-acquiescence” in the decision, meaning that the Commissioner will not follow the decision in subsequent cases. In such cases, the Commissioner hopes for the opportunity to litigate the matter in another circuit where he will have a better chance of obtaining reversal on appeal. The Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service or his delegate represents the executive branch in the Tax Court. The Tax Court permits persons who are not Attorneys at Law to be admitted to practice by applying for admission and passing an examination administered by the Court.

Why would a taxpayer want to file a tax court petition?

Because the IRS issued a notice, the IRS may be proceeding as if there is no settlement. To protect yourself against an unagreed assessment of tax or collection action, you should file a petition within the period set forth in the notice. You may also wish to contact the IRS about the status of your case.

Check to see that you have enough money withheld from your paycheck to pay your taxes. To receive a refund, you must file the return within three years of the due date for the specific tax year.

Current Composition Of The Court

The President, however, may remove the Tax Court judges, after notice and opportunity for public hearing, for “inefficiency,” “neglect of duty,” or “malfeasance in office.” The Tax Court maintains a “Small Cases Division,” similar to a small claims court.

Unauthorized use of this computer is a violation of federal law and may subject you to civil and criminal penalties. This computer and the automated systems which run on it are monitored. Individuals are not guaranteed privacy while using government computers and should, therefore, not expect it. Communications made using this system may be disclosed as allowed by federal law. This is a secure service provided by United States Department of the Treasury.

You don’t have to do anything if you filed your tax return within the last twelve weeks, but your time for filing a petition with the Tax Court is not extended by filing a return. 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. However, the vast majority of cases are settled by mutual agreement without the necessity of a trial. However, if a trial is conducted, in due course a report is ordinarily issued by the presiding judge setting forth findings of fact and an opinion.


To dispute or delay payment of additional or deficient taxes, U.S. taxpayers must file a petition with the U.S. Tax Court within 90 days of a Notice of Deficiency letter from the IRS. A tax court case commences with the filing of a petition, for which a $60 filing fee must be paid.

Can you sue the IRS and win?

Generally, if you fully paid the tax and the IRS denies your tax refund claim, or if the IRS takes no action on the claim within six months, then you may file a refund suit. You can file a suit in a United States District Court or the United States Court of Federal Claims.

Once you receive your notice, you have 90 days from the date of the notice to file a petition with the Tax Court, if you want to challenge the tax we proposed. We have calculated your tax, penalty and interest based on wages and other income reported to us by employers, financial institutions and others. The case is then closed in accordance with the judge’s opinion by the entry of a decision. The U.S. Tax Court is in Washington, D.C., and has 19 members who are appointed by the U.S.

More In File

Check the name, social security number , and tax year on your notice. Make sure they match the name, number, and year on the return. Sign the return and date it; if filing a joint return your spouse must also sign the return. Send the return with the Response form to the address listed on the notice. Review your records and make sure you filed all your prior returns. A petition is a legal document formally requesting a court order, which, along with complaints, are considered pleadings at the onset of a lawsuit. For certain tax disputes of $50,000 or less, taxpayers may choose to have their case conducted under the Court’s simplifiedsmall tax caseprocedure.

Tax Court

Attorneys who provide evidence of membership and good standing in state bar or the D.C. Bar can be admitted to the bar of the Court without sitting for the Tax Court examination. Tax Court practice is highly specialized and most practitioners are licensed attorneys who specialize in tax controversies. For assistance with DAWSON, view the FAQs and other materials here. To contact the Webmaster for technical issues or problems with the website, send an email to No documents can be filed with the Court at this email address. The IRS posts current warnings and alerts about all types of tax scams on its website . In addition, you may file a consumer complaint about a tax scam with the Federal Trade Commission .

What Is Tax Court?

When the Commissioner of Internal Revenue has determined a tax deficiency, the taxpayer may dispute the deficiency in the U.S. Many Tax Court cases involve disputes over Federal income tax and penalties, often after an examination by the Internal Revenue Service of a taxpayer’s return. After issuance of a series of preliminary written notices and a lack of agreement between the taxpayer and the IRS, the IRS formally “determines” the amount of the “deficiency” and issues a formal notice called a “statutory notice of deficiency,” or “ninety day letter”. In this context, the term “deficiency” is a legal term of art, and is not necessarily equal to the amount of unpaid tax . The deficiency is generally the excess of the amount the IRS contends is the correct tax over the amount the taxpayer showed on the return—in both cases, without regard to how much has actually been paid.

If the amount of the disputed deficiency, including penalties, or claimed overpayments does not exceed $50,000 ($10,000 or less for court proceedings beginning on or before July 22, 1998) a taxpayer may be heard before the Small Cases Division, upon approval of the Tax Court. The purpose of the Small Cases Division is to allow taxpayers to obtain a ruling on their case with a minimal amount of formality, delay, and, expense. However, because small claims cases cannot be appealed, the decisions are not published and cannot be used as precedents in other courts. At any time before a decision is final, the Tax Court may interrupt a small claims hearing and transfer the case to the regular Tax Court for trial. This might occur when important facts or issues of law, more suitably heard in the formal Tax Court, become apparent only after the Small Claims proceedings have begun. The Tax Court is composed of 19 judges appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Former judges whose terms have ended may become “Senior judges”, able to return and assist the court by hearing cases while serving on recall.

Related Terms

These judges also travel nationwide to conduct trials in various designated cities. Most of the cases heard by the Tax Court of Canada are in connection with income tax, goods, and services tax, and employment insurance. If an individual has a dispute with the IRS or wants to delay paying taxes, the individual must file a petition with the U.S. Tax Court is a specialized court of law focusing on tax-related disputes and issues. The court has 19 seats for active judges, numbered in the order in which they were initially filled.

  • In 2005, stops in Miami and New Orleans were canceled due to the effects of hurricanes which had struck shortly before their scheduled visit to each city.
  • The “Small Tax Case” procedure is available “at the option of the taxpayer.” These cases are neither appealable nor precedential.
  • The U.S. Tax Court, which is independent of the IRS, hears cases relating to income, estate, and gift tax; it also rules on tax disputes ranging from notices of deficiency and worker classification to reviews of collection actions.
  • In the case of an appeal by the taxpayer, a bond is normally required in order to avoid enforcement action during the pendency of the appeal.
  • A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.
  • If you want to challenge the IRS’s deficiency determination, file a petition with the U.S.

If issues or points of law related to the problem at hand are addressed in both regular and memorandum decisions then both should be considered. Because of the negative legal consequences ensuing with respect to a statutory assessment , a taxpayer is often well advised to file a Tax Court petition in a timely manner. The “Secretary of the Treasury”, the “Department of the Treasury” and the “Internal Revenue Service” are not proper parties.

In 2001, a trial session in New York City was canceled due to the September 11 terrorist attacks. In 2005, stops in Miami and New Orleans were canceled due to the effects of hurricanes which had struck shortly before their scheduled visit to each city. Upon issuance of the statutory notice of deficiency , the taxpayer generally has 90 days to file a Tax Court petition for “redetermination of the deficiency”. If no petition is timely filed, the IRS may then statutorily “assess” the tax.

Under an amendment to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 enacted in late 2015, the U.S. Tax Court “is not an agency of, and shall be independent of, the executive branch of the Government.” However, section 7443 of the Code still provides that a Tax Court judge may be removed by the President “for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office”. The RIA reporter is known as RIA Tax Court Memorandum Decisions and is cited as “T.C. Memo” and the CCH reporter is titled Tax Court Memorandum Decisions and is cited as “TCM”. Typically memorandum decisions will include a citation to both reporters.

Tax Court

In addition, the court is assisted by a number of “special trial judges”, who are employees of the court, appointed by the chief judge of the Tax Court, rather than by the President. Special trial judges serve a function similar to that served by United States magistrate judges of the district courts, and may hear cases regarding alleged deficiencies or overpayments of up to $50,000. Reappointment, when requested by a Tax Court judge (I.R.C. 7447) is generally pro forma regardless of the political party of the appointing President and the political party of the re-appointing President. Each active judge appointed by the President has two law clerks (attorney-advisers) and each senior judge and special trial judge has one law clerk. The petition must be timely filed within the allowable time. The Court cannot extend the time for filing which is set by statute. Once the petition is filed, payment of the underlying tax ordinarily is postponed until the case has been decided.

The GSA allocated $450,000, and commissioned renowned architect Victor A. Lundy, who produced a design that was approved in 1966. However, funding constraints brought on by the Vietnam War delayed the start of construction until 1972. President Calvin Coolidge signing the income tax bill which established the U.S. Board of Tax Appeals; Andrew Mellon is the third figure from the right. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

The completed United States Tax Court Building was dedicated on November 22, 1974, the fiftieth anniversary of the Revenue Act that created the court. In 1942, Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1942, renaming the Board as the “Tax Court of the United States”. With this change, the Members became Judges and the Chairman became the Presiding Judge. By 1956, overcrowding and the desire to separate judicial and executive powers led to initial attempts to relocate the court.

What This Notice Is About

The United States Tax Court (in case citations, T.C.) is a federal trial court of record established by Congress under Article I of the U.S. Constitution, section 8 of which provides that the Congress has the power to “constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court”.

  • Tax Court are published by the GPO in a reporter called Reports of the United States Tax Court, cited as T.C.
  • Although the “principal office” of the Court is located in the District of Columbia, Tax Court judges may sit “at any place within the United States”.
  • The Court cannot extend the time for filing which is set by statute.
  • The Tax Court is composed of 19 judges appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.
  • The Tax Court specializes in adjudicating disputes over federal income tax, generally prior to the time at which formal tax assessments are made by the Internal Revenue Service.

Use the income information included with the notice, along with other income you received to prepare your return. If you want to challenge the deficiency determination, file a petition with the U.S.

You have 90 calendar days from the date of your CP3219N to file a petition with the Tax Court. If the CP3219N is addressed to a person who is outside of the United States, the deadline to file a petition with the Tax Court is extended to 150 days from the date of the CP3219N. A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States. Some information on this page is from the web site of the U.S. Tax Court, which, as a publication of the United States government, is in the public domain. Congress amended the Internal Revenue Code, now codified in Internal Revenue Code section 7482, providing that decisions of the Tax Court may be reviewed by the applicable geographical United States Court of Appeals other than the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Justice Scalia penned a separate concurrence for four justices in Freytag.

In certain tax disputes involving $50,000 or less, taxpayers may elect to have the 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 and are not precedential. Tax courts have the authority to provide rulings on a wide range of taxation subjects. The U.S. Tax Court, which is independent of the IRS, hears cases relating to income, estate, and gift tax; it also rules on tax disputes ranging from notices of deficiency and worker classification to reviews of collection actions.

To “assess” the tax in this sense means to administratively and formally record the tax on the books of the United States Department of the Treasury. This formal statutory assessment is a critical act, as the statutory tax lien that later arises is effective retroactively to the date of the assessment, and encumbers all property and rights to property of the taxpayer. A notice of deficiency is a legal determination by the IRS of a taxpayer’s tax deficiency. It is issued when the IRS proposes a change to a tax return because they found that the information reported on a return does not match their records. A federal court which hears taxpayers’ appeals from decisions of the Internal Revenue Service. Tax courts hear taxpayer appeals “de novo” , and taxpayers do not have to pay the amount claimed by the IRS before their case is heard by the tax court. Tax court decisions may be appealed to the Federal District Court of Appeals.