Taking a Case to Tax Court

  • Robert S. Thomas,
  •   Taxation
  •   Comments Off on Taking a Case to Tax Court


One of the last things that any person or business wants, or envisions, when they file their annual tax return, is to wind up in a federal tax court. However, when you work hard and prepare your tax returns honestly, you do not expect to get audited and stuck with a significantly higher tax bill. If this happens, you don’t have to stand by and do nothing—you have the legal right to bring a tax case against the IRS.

When Does a Case Go Before a Tax Court?

At the conclusion of an audit, the IRS is required to send the taxpayer a Notice of Deficiency, which indicates that: (1) the tax obligation proposed by the taxpayer was deficient; and (2) that the IRS has concluded that adjustments must be made to the tax return. This notice of deficiency is also referred to as a 90 day letter, because if you intend to dispute the findings, then you must file a petition in a U.S. Tax Court within 90 days.

What Happens in a Tax Trial?

By taking a claim before the tax court, you are essentially a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the IRS. This means that you will have the burden of proof to demonstrate by credible evidence that the IRS’ adjustment of your tax return was erroneous. A tax trial is a formal proceeding, in which the parties present evidence through witnesses and exhibits. It is therefore essential to have a tax attorney who is knowledgeable in both tax law and the formal procedures of tax courts. This attorney must also bring together all of the witnesses and records that are essential to proving your claim.

You are entitled to a trial in your case before a Federal judge, but do not have a right to demand a jury. In Illinois, the United States Tax Court holds trials in two places: (1) Chicago, at the Kluczynski Federal Building; and (2) Peoria (for cases with less than $50,000 in dispute). Following a trial in many tax cases, it may take over a year for the judge to issue a ruling. During this time period, the judge may request additional legal briefing. Once the ruling is issued, the parties have 90 days to file an appeal to the United States Courts of Appeals. For cases with less than $50,000 in dispute, which are specifically designated as “small cases”, the judge will usually issue a faster ruling. This is because those cases are less complex. Another difference is that with a small case, you have no right to appeal.

You Need an Experienced Tax Attorney

If the IRS is proposing a significant adjustment of your tax return, you may need to bring a case to the tax court. I can help you. The IRS has tremendous resources and attorneys who want to collect from you. You need an experienced, knowledgeable lawyer to fight for you. I have handled tax disputes for more than two decades and have a Master of Law Degree (LLM) in Taxation. In addition, I am licensed to practice in the United States Tax Court. Let the Law Offices of Robert S. Thomas represent you. Call our office today at 847-392-5893 to schedule a consultation, or visit our website.

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