What is U.S. Tax Court?

Nearly 100 years ago, Congress recognized the need for an independent judicial forum that would oversee disputes between taxpayers and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The U.S. Tax Court is still around and travels to several dozen major U.S. cities each year (including Miami) to adjudicate IRS-related disputes. This blog will take a look at this unique civil court and provide a general overview of its underlying processes. 

Tax Court is a Civil Court

The U.S. Tax Court is not the venue for the adjudication of white-collar crimes and other criminal charges that stem from tax-related issues. Rather, it is simply the venue for taxpayers to appeal a decision or ruling by the IRS. There are no juries in Tax Court trials. In court, the taxpayer (petitioner) is facing off against the IRS (referred to in court as the “respondent”). One benefit of Tax Court over other venues that oversee tax disputes is that taxpayers are not obligated to pay their disputed tax bill in full before filing a lawsuit (referred to as the “petition”). 

Disputes concerning the following matters may be heard in Tax Court: 

  • The outcome of an IRS audit (the most common reason for taxpayers’ initiating the process in Tax Court)
  • Notice of deficiency (also a common reason; taxpayers must file a petition in Tax Court within 90 days of receiving the notice of deficiency)
  • Notice of determination concerning a collection action
  • A taxpayer’s being jointly or severally liable for a joint tax return
  • Notice of determination concerning worker classification

It is highly suggested that you be represented by experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel when you are in Tax Court. Not all attorneys are admitted to the bar of the U.S. Tax Court (the attorneys at Weisberg Kainen Mark are). The trial functions much like those of other civil and criminal courts in the U.S. You may bring witnesses and documents to support your position. If you do not win your case in Tax Court, you are allowed to appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals. 

Small Tax Cases

Your case might be eligible for a relatively expedient process that is also less formal if the tax amount in dispute is $50,000 or less. You must specify in your Tax Court petition that you wish to have your case decided as a small tax case; otherwise, it will be treated as a regular case. The downside to small tax cases is that the decisions cannot be appealed. 


Before filing a petition in U.S. Tax Court, you should evaluate your options and determine the best route for resolving your tax dispute. As with any method, going through with a trial in Tax Court has advantages and disadvantages. Weisberg Kainen Mark has decades of combined experience with resolving complex tax disputes. Can we help you settle things and achieve peace of mind for you and your family? Get in touch with us today to find out.

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Weisberg Kainen Mark, PL

As experienced trial lawyers with a passion for justice, our firm provides clients with compelling advocacy, attorney availability, and creative solutions to your tax or criminal law matters.

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