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Questions about Tax Court Rules

What is a tax court?

A tax court created by the Congress under Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution is a federal trial court which is in charge of resolving disagreements over federal income tax. In most cases, adjudications happen prior to the tax assessments made by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Tax courts also offer the opportunity to tax payers to argue their tax matters without having to first pay their disputed tax. Judges of tax courts are usually appointed for a 15 year term and may be removed from office with substantial cause to do so.

Listed below are a few questions answered by the Lawyers on issues related to tax courts.

I have received a document from the IRS stating “notice of deficiency”. I did not file my tax returns in 2004 and 2005 but have proof of taxes being paid. Currently I need an extension to file my tax returns with the federal tax court. What is the process to do so?

The paperwork from the IRS will clearly state that you are not allowed an extension. You would need to prepare the petition as soon as possible and mail it. The day it is mailed is considered the date of filing as per the mailbox rule. In Sections 5 and 6 of the petition, you would need to include a simple statement saying you are not in agreement with the IRS’ calculation of your taxes since you have paid the taxes for 2004 and 2005 and you have proof of the same. Subsequently, you could request for a trial. In such a situation it is likely the IRS would contact you to resolve the matter. You can present all your information to the appeals officer and arrive at a solution. However if you are unable to file the petition prior to the deadline on the notice, there is no scope for an extension and you will have to pay the taxes as decided by the IRS. The following link from the IRS website provides information on how to prepare and file a petition.

Can my attorney sign a tax court petition since it is an emergency and I am not available in the country?

There are some attorneys who would be admitted to tax court but this is not the same as having the authority to sign a petition on behalf of someone. In order to get the authority to do so, the attorney would need to have a signed IRS Form 2848 from the client on file along with the petition. If this is not done, the attorney would not be not allowed or authorized by the IRS to sign on such petitions on behalf of the client. A template of the Form 2848 is available at the following link.

Can a tax court decision be reversed or overruled?

A tax court decision could be overruled by filing an appeal of the decision. Usually the time limit to file an appeal is ninety days after a decision has been ruled on the case.

As I am due to appear in tax court, I would like to know the difference between formal and informal discovery?

An informal discovery implies that you need to exchange information and documents relevant to your defense through an informal medium referred to as the Branerton conference. This is done in order to ascertain facts of the case which will not be disputed at the trial. The IRS is also required to provide the required documents needed by you and vice versa. If this does not happen or there are hurdles in doing so, you would need to go through a formal trial based on the rules of the tax court. The following link would provide you with more information and guidelines on this.

Can the tax court employ the IRS to collect taxes?

A tax court is regarded as a dispute resolution institution. If a taxpayer loses a case in the tax court and the IRS is favored, the IRS, being the government’s tax debt collection agency, can enforce the judgment against the taxpayer and collect the payment if they choose to do so. This is not the concern or responsibility of the tax court to implement or follow up. The tax court has the authority to prevent the IRS from taking certain action. However, the enforcement of tax collection is at the discretion of the IRS. There is no case law to support the court order to enforce the IRS to collect taxes from the taxpayer.

Filing your tax returns is an important activity. Failure to do so and not filing within the specified time period can cause many complications. Tax courts and the IRS are interlinked and there are many rules and procedures to follow when dealing with them. You may be in a situation where you have several questions and doubts on how to go about issues dealing with the tax courts. To know more about your options, consulting Experts who can guide you with important information and clarify your doubts will prove useful.
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