A Brief Q&A on U.S. Tax Court

For most Americans, filing their taxes with the IRS each year is a straightforward process that ends once the amount of taxes owed to the government is paid. However, some taxpayers become engaged in a dispute with the IRS when they are notified that they owe much larger amounts of taxes than what their own calculations represent. When a dispute arises with the IRS, taxpayers have the option of presenting their case to the U.S. Tax Court in hopes of avoiding a higher tax payout.

What is the U.S. Tax Court?

The United States Tax Court is a court of law established by the U.S. Constitution that provides a forum for taxpayers to resolve their tax debt dispute with the IRS. A taxpayer can either represent themselves or hire an attorney who has been admitted to practice before the U.S. Tax Court. Although the court is located in Washington, D.C., trials are held in various cities throughout the nation.  

Generally, a person will end up in Tax Court when the IRS disagrees with the amount of taxes an individual has presented on their tax return. When a disagreement arises, the IRS will issue a Notice of Deficiency letter to the taxpayer informing them of the dispute and providing an alternate amount of taxes owed. The taxpayer then has 90 days to either pay the amount of taxes that the IRS has calculated or file a petition to have their claim heard by the U.S. Tax Court.  Typically, the taxpayer will have an opportunity to present his or her case to IRS Appeals after filing the Tax Court petition and before the case is sent to IRS Counsel to represent the IRS in court. The Tax Court also hears disputes about IRS Collection matters.

What happens during a court proceeding?

A trial in the U.S. Tax Court is unique in its differences from other types of trials in the criminal justice and civil system. Unlike civil and criminal cases, petitioners will have their case heard by a judge, but they will rarely present arguments and there is no jury. Also, a petitioner who loses his or her case is not subject to jail time, fines, or other types of consequences found in other court systems: an unsuccessful petitioner is only ordered to pay the disputed amount of taxes and/or penalties to the IRS.  

After the petitioner has presented his or her case, the judge will typically request that briefs be submitted summarizing the facts and legal arguments from each side. After reviewing the briefs, the judge will make a decision based on the facts and issue a judgment.  Typically it takes one year or more to get the judgment from the U.S. Tax Court.

How can I find help with my U.S. Tax Court case?

At the Law Offices of Robert V. Boeshaar, we help individuals and small businesses resolve their disputes with the IRS. Contact our qualified tax attorneys today to schedule a consultation.

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