You must file a petition to begin a case in the Tax Court. A party who files a petition in response to an IRS notice of deficiency, notice of determination, or notice of certification is called the petitioner. The Commissioner of Internal Revenue is referred to as the respondent in Tax Court cases.
Anyone can file a petition who has received:
Yes. You may hire an attorney or other person admitted to practice before the Tax Court to represent you before the Tax Court.
You might qualify for help from an organization referred to as a tax clinic. There are a number of tax clinics throughout the United States participating in the Tax Court’s Clinical Program. You may want to contact a clinic in your geographic area. The Internal Revenue Service (Taxpayer Advocate Service) has a list of tax clinics on its Web site. The clinics have income restrictions, and a representative of the clinic will let you know whether you qualify to be represented. The Tax Court will send you information about tax clinics when you file your petition and when a Notice of Trial is sent to you.
There is additional help from organizations we refer to as calendar call programs. Tax practitioners volunteer their time to assist unrepresented low income taxpayers through professional organizations. If there is a participating Calendar Call Program in the city where you have requested trial, the judge may identify the volunteer practitioners at the beginning of the trial session.
These tax clinics and Bar-related calendar call programs are not part of the Internal Revenue Service or the Tax Court. The Tax Court does not endorse or recommend any particular tax clinic or Bar-related calendar call program.
You may be represented in your Tax Court case by a private attorney, a clinic representative, or other person admitted to practice before the Court. The agreement of representation is between you and the representative and is independent of the Tax Court or the IRS. Your representative must be admitted to practice before the Tax Court. All representatives who practice before the Tax Court are subject to the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
There are tax clinics throughout the United States participating in the Tax Court’s Clinical Program. You may want to contact one of the clinics in your geographic area. The Taxpayer Advocate of the Internal Revenue Service has a more extensive clinic list available on the IRS Web site (www.irs.gov). The Tax Court will send you information about tax clinics when you file your petition. The Court will also send tax clinic information when the Notice of Trial is sent to you. These tax clinics are not part of the Internal Revenue Service or the Tax Court. The Tax Court does not endorse or recommend any particular tax clinic or organization.
You may file a petition with the Tax Court even if you do not have a representative. You may also present your case to a Judge without being represented. This guide is provided to help you in that process. If you decide to file a petition and to proceed to trial without a representative, you must pay close attention to all the Tax Court orders and notices you receive and all the instructions provided. A petitioner who is not represented is still required to abide by the Tax Court Rules of Practice and Procedure (Rules). If you have difficulty reading, writing, or understanding written instructions, you should seek help.
All proceedings in the Tax Court are in English. The Tax Court does not have staff available to assist non-English speaking petitioners. The Tax Court Rules provide that it is the responsibility of the parties to make arrangements for and compensate interpreters.
Many Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) offer services in languages other than English. You can review the Court's list or the Taxpayer Advocate's (IRS) more extensive list and find a clinic convenient to you that may provide the language assistance you need.
Ordinarily, the parties are expected to arrange for and compensate any needed interpreters. There may, however, be extraordinary situations in which the Court will compensate an interpreter. You may file a motion requesting that the Court pay the expenses of an interpreter. In your motion you must satisfy the Court that (1) a language barrier exists (you speak primarily a language other than English or you have a hearing impairment); (2) you do not have the financial means to pay for an interpreter; and (3) the case presents a substantial question which is not frivolous. A Judge has discretion to grant or deny your motion to pay the expenses of an interpreter.
You should make arrangements as early as possible to have an interpreter available. If you are unable to afford an interpreter, you should file a motion to request that the Court pay the expenses of an interpreter as soon as possible and generally no later than 30 days before trial. In your motion you should explain to the Court that you satisfy the three conditions set forth above: (1) A language barrier exists (you speak primarily a language other than English or you have a hearing impairment); (2) you do not have the financial means to pay for an interpreter; and (3) the case presents a substantial question which is not frivolous.
It is difficult to know the circumstances in which you believe your case was settled. Because the IRS issued a notice, the IRS may be proceeding as if there is no settlement. To protect yourself against an unagreed assessment of tax or collection action, you should file a petition within the period set forth in the notice. You may also wish to contact the IRS about the status of your case.
1. First, fill in your full name on the line at the top left of the petition. If you are a married couple filing a joint petition or if you were married in the tax year the return was filed and wish to file a joint petition, fill in both names on this line.
2. Next, check the appropriate box on line 1 for the type of case you intend to file. Place an X in the box that represents the type of letter you received from the IRS. For example, if you received a Notice of Deficiency, check that box. If you have a collection case, that is, the IRS has filed a Federal tax lien against property you own or has proposed a levy on your wages, bank accounts, State tax refunds, etc., and issued you a notice of determination, check the box for Notice of Determination Concerning Collection Action. If you received a notice of determination concerning a request for relief from joint and several liability (innocent spouse relief), or if you filed a claim with the IRS for relief from joint and several liability, six months have passed, and the IRS has not issued a determination letter, check the box marked Notice of Determination Concerning Your Request for Relief From Joint and Several Liability. Lastly, if you received a Notice of Determination Concerning Worker Classification, check that box. If you received a Final Determination for Disallowance of Interest Abatement, or if you requested abatement of interest and the IRS failed to make a determination within 180 days, check the box marked Notice of Final Determination for [Full/Partial] Disallowance of Interest Abatement Claim (or Failure of IRS to Make Final Determination Within 180 Days After Claim for Abatement). If you received a Notice of Certification of Your Seriously Delinquent Federal Tax Debt to the Department of State, check that box. Lastly, if you received a Notice of Determination Under Section 7623 Concerning Whistleblower Action, check that box.
3. On line 2, put the mailing date of the notice you received. You should also enter the city and State of the IRS office that issued you the notice.
4. Put the tax year(s) for which the notice was issued on line 3.
5. On line 4, you should choose whether you want your case conducted as a regular or small tax case and check the appropriate box. If you do not check a box, the Court will file your case as a regular case.
The tax laws provide for small (S case) procedures for resolving disputes between taxpayers and the IRS. To have your case tried as an S case, you must qualify and choose to have S case procedures applied to your case and the Tax Court must agree with your choice. Generally, the Tax Court will agree with your request if you qualify for S case procedures.
Line 5 of the petition asks you to tell the Court why you disagree with the IRS determination in your case. You should list clearly and concisely the errors that you believe the IRS made in the notice of deficiency or the notice of determination that was sent to you. List each issue separately using letters or numbers for each item, and briefly state why you disagree with the IRS. Be sure to list each item in the notice of deficiency or notice of determination with which you disagree. For example:
A. I disagree with the IRS’s disallowance of my claim for head of household status because I satisfied the requirements for claiming that status.
B. I disagree with the IRS’s disallowance of my dependent exemptions for my children because each of them satisfies the tests for dependency.
C. I disagree with the IRS’s disallowance of my claim for the earned income credit because I correctly calculated the credit on my return.
I disagree with the IRS’s determination that a levy be imposed on my wages because:
(1) such a levy would constitute a financial hardship for me and my family; and
(2) because I have proposed an alternative method of paying my federal tax liability.
On line 6 of the petition you should briefly state the facts on which you rely to support your position. List each statement of facts in the same order as you listed the issues on line 5. Clearly stating why you believe the IRS is wrong and what facts you rely upon will help the Tax Court understand your position.
Lastly, sign your name, preferably in blue ink, on the line for signature of petitioner. If you are filing a joint petition, be sure to have your spouse sign the petition as well. It is important that each signature be an original signature (and not a copy). Fill in your address and phone number on the lines provided. If the petition is a joint petition, your spouse must provide his or her address and phone number.
The tax laws set forth the different time limits for filing petitions in different kinds of cases. The IRS notice usually provides the number of days that you will have to file a petition, counting from the date the IRS notice was mailed to you. That date is usually stamped on the notice of deficiency or the notice of determination. In addition, the IRS notice may state the last date for filing the petition. The tax laws are very strict on filing dates and do not allow extra time for filing a petition. For example, in a deficiency case, the petition must be filed by the 90th day (or the 150th day if the notice is addressed to a person outside the United States) from the date of the mailing of the notice of deficiency, but in a collection action, the petition must be filed within 30 days of the mailing of the notice of determination. The Tax Court cannot extend the time for filing a petition.
The petition must be filed with the Tax Court in Washington, D.C. You may hand deliver it to the Tax Court between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. (Eastern time), or mail it to:
United States Tax Court
400 Second Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20217-0002
If you are unable to use the form from this Web site, write a letter to the Tax Court stating that you want to file a petition and that you would like any necessary forms and documents sent to you. The letter should include the amount in dispute, your name, your address, your telephone number, the year(s) at issue in your case, and a list of the errors you believe the IRS made. Include a copy of the IRS notice (see privacy discussion below) that you wish to dispute and follow the mailing procedures described above.
You should submit Form 4, Statement of Taxpayer Identification Number, when you file your petition, and redact (delete) your Social Security number or Employer Identification number from any notice you attach to your petition and from any other document you file with the Court. The word redact means to remove or delete information. See Rule 20(b). Do not include your Social Security number on any document you send to the Court (except Form 4).
You should not include on, and where necessary you should redact or delete from, any document filed with the Court personal information such as Social Security numbers or Employer Identification numbers, dates of birth, names of minor children, and financial account numbers. See Rule 27(a). If you do not do so, your personal information will be part of the public record of your case. When information is part of the public record, it means that anyone can come to the Court and look at the file and obtain information.
The simplest way to delete or redact is to use a black marker and black out the numbers or information you want to be private. For example, if the notice you received from the IRS has your Social Security number (000-00-0000), you should black out the number when you attach the notice to the petition. Do not write these numbers on your petition, or on any other documents submitted to the Court. You should write your Social Security number on Form 4, Statement of Taxpayer Identification Number, which will not be available to the public.
You may send the Court within 60 days of the original filing of a document on which you inadvertently disclosed personal information a complete, redacted copy of the previously filed document for substitution in the record; the redacted document should be clearly marked “redacted” (under the docket number). You should explain that you want to substitute the redacted document for the previously submitted (unredacted) document. See Rule 27(h).
No, at this time, the Tax Court does not permit electronic filing (eFiling) of a petition or the filing of a faxed petition. The Tax Court does permit eFiling of other documents, however. More information on eFiling is available in the Petitioners' Guide to Electronic Case Access and Filing available on the Court’s eAccess Web page.
The petition must be received by the Court or mailed to the Court within the time specified in the Internal Revenue Code. The IRS normally lists the last day for filing a timely petition with the Court in a notice of deficiency.
Generally, your petition will be treated as timely filed if the Tax Court receives it in an envelope bearing a legible U.S. Postal Service (USPS) postmark that is within the time for timely filing. There are safer alternatives to using regular first-class mail to mail a petition to the Court. Using certified or registered mail and obtaining a postmarked receipt from the USPS provides strong evidence that the petition was sent to the Tax Court on the certified or registered date of mailing. Another alternative is to use a DESIGNATED private delivery service. You should be aware that not all services offered by private delivery companies are DESIGNATED private delivery services. Please review IRS guidelines for what constitutes a DESIGNATED private delivery service. Using a DESIGNATED private delivery service provides strong evidence that the petition was sent to the Tax Court on either the date that is shown on the shipping label generated by the private delivery company or the date that is recorded electronically by the private delivery company to its database.
Caution: A private meter mail stamp or a “postmark” from a private, online postage-printing service will not prove that the petition was timely mailed.
No. You can place your petition in the mail today or hand deliver the petition to the Tax Court in Washington, D.C., today. (If the last day for filing is a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday in the District of Columbia, then you have until the next business day.) Using certified or registered mail or a designated private delivery service is preferable because it provides strong evidence that the petition was sent to the Tax Court on the registered mailing date. You will need a postmarked USPS registered mail or certified mail receipt or a receipt from a designated private delivery service.
Yes. The Tax Court may waive the filing fee if a petitioner establishes to the satisfaction of the Tax Court an inability to pay. The Application for Waiver of Filing Fee requires detailed information and must be signed under penalty of perjury. If the petition is a joint petition (filed by a married couple), then you may file one waiver form which should be signed by both petitioners. If the Tax Court denies your request to waive the filing fee and you do not pay the filing fee, your case may be dismissed.
No, you do not usually need to pay the amount in dispute while your case is pending before the Tax Court. If the Tax Court ultimately concludes, however, that you owe some amount of tax, or if you settle or agree to an amount of tax liability, the law provides generally that interest runs on any unpaid tax from the date it was originally due until paid in full. Interest also runs on some penalties. Although you do not need to pay the amount in dispute while your case is pending in the Tax Court, you may do so if you want to stop the interest on the unpaid tax from accruing.
The rules regarding prepayment of tax and penalties differ in U.S. District Courts and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. This guide does not provide information about the rules or procedures of those courts.
Yes. Attach to the petition a complete copy of the notice of deficiency, the notice of determination, or the notice of certification, including the explanation of adjustments or IRS Appeals Officer’s report that you may have received with the notice of deficiency, the notice of determination, or the notice of certification. You should remove your Social Security number from the notice of deficiency or notice of determination. See Notice Regarding Privacy and Public Access to Case Files. Do not attach any other documents such as tax returns, copies of receipts, or other types of evidence to the petition.
Yes. You should also submit a Statement of Taxpayer Identification Number (Form 4) and a Request for Place of Trial (Form 5), which tells the Tax Court where you would like to have your trial held. Select from the list of cities in which the Tax Court holds trial sessions. A map displaying the cities in which the Tax Court holds trial sessions is also available.
If you elected to conduct your case as a small tax case, you may request a place of trial in any of the cities listed on Form 5, Request for Place of Trial. Place an “X” in only one box to request your place of trial.
If you elected to conduct your case as a regular case, you may request any of the cities not marked with an asterisk on Form 5, Request for Place of Trial. Place an "X" in only one box to request your place of trial. You may not select one of the cities marked with an asterisk (*).
Yes. You may select the city that is most convenient to you without regard to the state in which you live. However, if you elected to conduct your case as a regular tax case, you may not select one of the cities marked with an asterisk (*).
Review the checklist below:
Checklist for Filing a Petition
You may want to file an amended petition. If so, you may be required by the Tax Court Rules to file a motion asking for leave to do so. If you are permitted to file an amended petition, you should indicate the additional facts and arguments in the amended petition.
You should mail a signed original and one copy of any document to the Tax Court. You also should send to the attorney representing the IRS a copy of any document you mail to the Tax Court. Do not forget to include your name and docket number at the top of any document you want to file with the Tax Court. However, do not include your Social Security Number on any document (other than Form 4) you file with the Tax Court. Do include your docket number on any documents you mail to the Court.
You will receive a notice of receipt of petition from the Tax Court acknowledging the filing of the petition. That document will tell you the docket number of your case. For example, if you file the petition in 2007, the last two digits will be -07. The docket number might look like 1234-07. If you chose, and the Tax Court granted, S case status, the docket number will contain the letter S at the end, for example, 1234-07S. You should include the docket number assigned to you on all letters and documents you send to the Tax Court and to the IRS. If you represent yourself and file your case after September 9, 2008, you will receive with your notice of receipt of petition registration instructions for electronic access (eAccess). If you filed your case after January 1, 2005, and before September 10, 2008, you may obtain eAccess registration instructions by sending a letter to the Clerk of the Court or by completing the online Petitioner Access Registration Request Form. If you are represented by counsel, your counsel may register for eAccess by completing Practitioner Access registration. You may also request instructions and register for eAccess, but you should first consult your counsel.
Next, an Answer is filed by the IRS. After your petition has been filed, you should send a copy of everything you send to the Tax Court to the attorney representing the IRS. The name and address of the IRS attorney is on the last page of the Answer.
Docket records are available through the Tax Court's Web site. The Docket Inquiry System provides easy access to docket records by allowing you to search using a docket number, individual party name, or corporate name keyword. Docket entries are updated Monday through Friday at approximately 6 p.m. (Eastern time). Orders issued or entered and decisions entered after March 1, 2008, and Tax Court and memorandum opinions starting September 25, 1995 (summary opinions starting January 1, 2001), are available to the public through the Tax Court’s Web site without registration for electronic access.
Complete instructions for using the Docket Inquiry System are available on the Tax Court's Web site. See the Petitioners' Guide to Electronic Case Access and Filing on the Tax Court Web site.
A motion is a request filed by one of the parties asking the Tax Court to take some action or asking the Tax Court to direct the other party to do something.
When you send a motion to the Tax Court, you should also send a copy of it to IRS counsel (and the other parties, if any, in the case). Attach a Certificate of Service to the copy you send to the Court. A sample Certificate of Service is available as Form 9 in Appendix I of the Rules; there is also a fillable Certificate of Service form on the Forms page. If you are filing a response to a motion electronically, please see the Petitioners' Guide to Electronic Case Access and Filing for more information.
The motion. A motion for summary judgment requests a ruling from a judge on some or all of the issues in a case before trial. If a motion for summary judgment is filed, the judge will review the documents submitted by the parties and consider whether the case can be decided without a trial. The party filing the motion must show that there is no genuine dispute of any important fact and that the party filing the motion is entitled to judgment in their favor as a matter of law. See Rule 121.
Your response. If the Court orders you to file a response to a motion for summary judgment, your response must: specify which factual statements in the motion for summary judgment you dispute, state what you contend the actual facts are, and cite the specific evidence that you rely on to support your factual contentions. That is, you must do more than deny or disagree with the motion. Instead, you must set forth specific facts that establish there is a factual dispute and that a trial is necessary to resolve that dispute. It is not enough merely to claim that a fact is in dispute. You must support your claim that there is a question about a material fact (or facts) by submitting with your response the evidence on which you rely.
Your evidence. Your supporting evidence may include your own sworn affidavit or unsworn declaration given under penalty of perjury. (Form 18, Unsworn Declaration under Penalty of Perjury). Your declaration can state facts about which you have personal knowledge. If your evidence includes documents, then you should submit those with your response (preferably numbered as Exhibits), and your declaration should identify and authenticate those documents. Your supporting evidence may also include other affidavits, stipulations, admissions, answers to interrogatories, or deposition transcripts.
Legal disputes. A motion for summary judgment may involve not only factual disputes but also legal disputes. If you disagree with the IRS’s explanation of the law that applies to your case, you should explain your disagreement and cite the statutes, regulations, or other authorities that apply to your case.
Failure to respond. If the IRS files a motion for summary judgment in your case and the Court orders you to file a response, then your failure to file a response may be grounds for granting the motion. See Rules 121(d) and 123(b).
Results of summary judgment. If a motion for summary judgment is granted in favor of the IRS, then there will be no trial, and a judgment will be entered against you. Similarly, if you file a motion for summary judgment and it is granted, then there will be no trial, and a judgment will be entered in your favor.
You are expected to submit a motion and other documents that are proper in title, form, and content. The Court expects filings to comply with the Court’s Rules of Practice and Procedure. In some circumstances, the Court may retitle a motion or document to more clearly convey the contents and comply with the Rules, or the Court may issue an order directing you to correct or supplement your document.
A response to a motion should be sent both to the Court and to respondent’s counsel (and the other parties, if any, in the case). Attach a Certificate of Service to the copy you send to the Court. If you are filing a response to a motion electronically, please see the Petitioners' Guide to Electronic Case Access and Filing for more information.
In a deficiency case, the IRS generally may not attempt to collect the amount in dispute while your case is pending in the Tax Court. You may consider filing a Motion To Restrain Assessment and Collection, and you should include a copy of the collection letter or notice you received from the IRS.
You should contact the IRS attorney, paralegal or Appeals officer handling your case and provide them with a copy of the “no change” letter. Be sure to redact your Social Security number from the “no change” letter. In most instances, the IRS will prepare a stipulated decision (an agreed decision) consistent with the “no change” letter. You and the IRS attorney should sign the stipulated decision and submit it to the Court. Your Tax Court case will be closed once the Judge enters the stipulated decision.
The Tax Court is a court of public record and files are generally available for viewing in the Records Section at the Tax Court. You may also request that particular documents be copied by contacting the Reproduction Section by mail at United States Tax Court, 400 Second Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20217-0002 or telephone at (202) 521-4683. There is a fee for copy work.
You may view, download, or print any document filed in your case if you have registered for eAccess (Petitioner Access). You may also view any orders issued or entered and decisions entered after March 1, 2008, through the Docket Inquiry System on the Court’s Web site without registering for eAccess.
You should file a Notice of Change of Address (Form 10) with the Tax Court. You should send a copy to the attorney representing the IRS. If you have moved to a new geographic area, you may want to change the place of trial to a city closer to your new address. If you want a different place of trial, you should send a Motion To Change Place of Trial to the Tax Court and send a copy to the IRS attorney. Please identify the city in which you now want your trial to be held.
For all non-technical questions, contact the Office of the Clerk of the Court at (202) 521-0700.