Most taxpayers do not realize that in a battle with the IRS, they will find themselves in a specialized court. This is called “U.S. Tax Court” and it operates differently then the criminal or civil courts in the United States. U.S. Tax Court is federal law, and the head tax court is in Washington, DC. The judges are tax law experts, instead of generalized attorneys.
This is important because it means that preparing for trial with the IRS is a different process and procedure than what one may have been previously familiar.
Tax Court Procedure
Generally, the Tax Court judges travel to cities across the United States in order to hear cases. A case is brought to tax court when the taxpayer believes that the IRS is mistaken and there is not an issue with their taxes. The IRS does not bring individuals to court. The taxpayers requests a hearing and will be heard before they are required to make any payments that the IRS is requesting. They will be heard before a judge and there is no right to a jury trial in Tax Court.
Decisions of the Tax Court
Once the Tax Court has decided the merits of the case, they will issue an official decision in the case. A regular decision is created if the specific issue has never been brought to the Tax Court’s attention before. For example, a judge may be required to rule on something for which there is no existing tax law because the situation had not been conceived of before.
In addition to the regular decision, a Tax Court judge can also write a memorandum decision. A memorandum decision applies current law to the facts of the case and explains the outcome. In these decisions, there is no need for the judge to do any interpretation because there is already existing law on point.
Tax Court Attorneys
Though a taxpayer may petition the court without any legal experience or background, tax attorneys have experience working with the IRS and the Tax Court on a regular basis. Tax laws are among the most confusing and complex and a legally trained tax attorney can provide invaluable experience to someone who is looking to fight IRS. Since there is a short timeframe to challenge IRS decisions, it is important to be in contact with a qualified attorney.
If you are based in Texas, please contact the experienced and professional tax attorneys at Scammahorn Law Firm, P.C. at (903) 595-1000.