IRS Update on Shutdown Impact on Tax Court Cases; Important Information for Taxpayers, Tax Professionals with Pending Cases

The United States Tax Court’s website (www.ustaxcourt.gov) announced that the Tax Court shut down operations on Friday, December 28, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. and will remain closed until further notice.  The IRS reminds taxpayers and tax professionals the Tax Court website is the best place to get information about a pending case. 

There are some important points for taxpayers and tax professionals to keep in mind. These are some questions and answers to help during the current appropriations lapse.

Q: What should I do if a document I mailed or sent to the Tax Court was returned to me?

A: The Tax Court website indicates that mail sent to the court through the U.S.  Postal Service or through designated private delivery services may have been returned undelivered.  If a document you sent to the Tax Court was returned to you, as the Tax Court website indicates, re-mail or re-send the document to the Court with a copy of the envelope or container (with the postmark or proof of mailing date) in which it was first mailed or sent. In addition, please retain the original.

My case was calendared for trial.  What does the Tax Court’s closure mean for my pending case? 

The Tax Court canceled trial sessions for January 28, 2019 (El Paso, TX; Los Angeles, CA; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; San Diego, CA; and Lubbock, TX), February 4, 2019 (Hartford, CT; Houston, TX; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; St. Paul, MN; Washington, DC; and Winston-Salem, NC) and February 11, 2019 (Detroit, MI; Los Angeles, CA; New York, NY; San Diego, CA; and Mobile, AL). The Tax Court will inform taxpayers who had cases on the canceled trial sessions of their new trial dates.

The Tax Court’s website indicates that it will make a decision about the February 25, 2019 trial sessions (Atlanta, GA; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Los Angeles, CA; and Philadelphia, PA) on or before February 7, 2019.  Taxpayers with cases that are scheduled for trial sessions that have not been canceled or that have not yet been scheduled for trial should expect their cases to proceed in the normal course until further notice.

If my case was on a canceled trial session, when will I have an opportunity to resolve my case with Appeals or Chief Counsel after the government reopens? 

After the IRS and Chief Counsel reopen, we will make our best efforts to expeditiously resolve cases. 

Where can I get more information about my Tax Court case? 

If someone is representing you in your case, you should contact your representative. In addition, the Tax Court’s website is the best place for updates.  The IRS Chief Counsel and Appeals personnel assigned to your case may be furloughed and will not be available to answer your questions until the government reopens.  In addition, The American Bar Association (ABA) is conducting a webinar on January 28, 2019, and you can get more information from the ABA Tax Section website (www.americanbar.org/groups/taxation). Taxpayers seeking assistance from Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) can find a list of LITCs on the Tax Court’s website (www.ustaxcourt.gov/clinics/clinics.pdf).

During the shutdown, does interest continue to accrue on the tax that I am disputing in my pending Tax Court case? 

Yes. To avoid additional interest on the tax that you are disputing in your pending Tax Court case, you can stop the running of interest by making a payment to the IRS.  Go to www.irs.gov/payments for payment options available to you.  The IRS is continuing to process payments during the shutdown.

What should I do if I received a bill for the tax liability that is the subject of my Tax Court case? 

If you receive a collection notice for the tax that is in dispute in your Tax Court case, it may be because the IRS has not received your petition and has made a premature assessment.  When the government reopens, the IRS attorney assigned to your case will determine if a premature assessment was made and request that the IRS abate the premature assessment. 

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