Experienced · Local · Affordable
The United States Tax Court is a court of record established by Congress under Article I of the U.S. Constitution. When the Commissioner of Internal Revenue has determined a tax deficiency, the taxpayer may dispute the deficiency in the Tax Court before paying any disputed amount. The Tax Court’s jurisdiction also includes the authority to redetermine transferee liability, make certain types of declaratory judgments, adjust partnership items, order abatement of interest, award administrative and litigation costs, redetermine worker classification, determinerelief from joint and several liability on a joint return, review certain collection actions, and review awards to whistleblowers who provide information to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue.
The Tax Court is composed of 19 presidentially appointed members. Trial sessions are conducted and other work of the Court is performed by those judges, by senior judges serving on recall, and by special trial judges. 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.
A case in the Tax Court is commenced by the filing of a petition. The petition must be timely filed within the allowable time, i.e., within 90 days of the issuance of a Statutory Notice of Deficiency. The Court cannot extend the time for filing which is set by statute. A $60 filing fee must be paid when the petition is filed. Once the petition is filed, payment of the underlying tax ordinarily 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. 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. The case is then closed in accordance with the judge's opinion by entry of a decision.
Philadelphia tax attorney Joseph R. Viola is a member of the U.S. Tax Court Bar and is an experienced U.S. Tax Court practitioner. Although he can take on only a limited number of Tax Court cases and must be selective in those he chooses to litigate, you are encouraged to schedule a face-to-face consultation to discuss your case and obtain a frank evaluation of your likelihood of success.