Tax Tip Filing a Petition with the United States Tax Court

October 15, 2020

Filing a Petition with the United States Tax Court

Taxpayers have the right to appeal an IRS decision in an independent forum. One way taxpayers may exercise this right is by filing a petition with the United States Tax Court. 

How do I get to the Tax Court?

Receiving a Statutory Notice of Deficiency from the IRS is often referred to as your “ticket” to the Tax Court for a redetermination of liability. If you receive a Statutory Notice of Deficiency and wish to have the Tax Court hear your case, you must file a petition with the Tax Court within 90 days of the date that the Statutory Notice of Deficiency was mailed (or 150 days if the Statutory Notice of Deficiency is addressed to you outside the U.S.). See Internal Revenue Code § 6213.  Note that if the last day of the 90 days (or 150 days) falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the petition will be timely if filed on the next day which is not a Saturday. Sunday, or legal holiday. See Internal Revenue Code § 7503.

While a petition to redetermine liability is one of the more common reasons you may petition the Tax Court, you can also petition for other issues such as a determination or failure to make a determination by the IRS in your innocent spouse relief case, or a disagreement with the results in your collection due process hearing. These types of petitions have different deadlines for filing, so you should pay close attention to the correspondence you receive from the IRS regarding any due date for filing a petition.

Your petition may be hand-delivered to the drop box at the Tax Court, which reopened on July 10, 2020. Petitions may be hand-delivered between 8:00 am and4:30 pm Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays.

If you want to mail your petition, send it to:

United States Tax Court
400 Second Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20217-0002

Why should I go to the Tax Court?

The Tax Court is the only judicial forum where you don’t have to pay the proposed deficiency prior to filing a petition. If you miss the deadline in your Statutory Notice of Deficiency, the IRS will assess the taxes and any penalties proposed in the SNOD and you will have to pay the liability in full. Then if you still want to dispute the liability, you will need to file a refund claim with the IRS and subsequently a refund suit in a U.S. District Court or the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

By not filing a timely petition, you may be assessed taxes and penalties that you otherwise would not owe, which is contrary to the right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax

Do I need to go to the Tax Court to resolve my case?

No. You may be able to resolve your case without going to court if you contact the IRS directly. You can contact the person at the top of the first page of the Statutory Notice of Deficiency with any questions. If you prefer, you can write to the address at the top of the first page of the Statutory Notice of Deficiency.

Does it cost anything to petition the Tax Court?The filing fee is generally $60. You may pay by check or money order. If you can establish to the satisfaction of the Tax Court that you are unable to pay, the Tax Court will waive the filing fee. See the Tax Court’s Application for Waiver of Filing Fee. 

Has COVID-19 affected how petitioning the Tax Court works?

Like many other institutions, the Tax Court has been impacted by COVID-19. As of September 14, 2020, the Tax Court building remains closed to visitors, but the Tax Court is receiving and processing mail and deliveries and conducting virtual proceedings.

If you decide to file a petition with the Tax Court while the COVID-19 pandemic orders persist, you should carefully monitor the Tax Court’s COVID-19 resources page for further information pertaining to Tax Court operations.

Can anyone help me with my Tax Court petition?

You can represent yourself before the Tax Court or anyone allowed to practice before the Tax Court can represent you. If you are eligible, you may be able to get assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC). LITCs are independent from the IRS and the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS). LITCs represent individuals whose income is below a certain level and who need to resolve tax problems with the IRS. LITCs can represent taxpayers in audits, appeals, and tax collection disputes before the IRS and in court. In addition, LITCs can provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language. Services are offered for free or a small fee.

For more information or to find an LITC near you, see the LITC page at www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/litcmap or IRS Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List. This publication is also available online at www.irs.gov/forms-pubs or by calling the IRS toll-free at 800-829-3676. If you file a petition with the Tax Court, the Tax Court will send you information about LITCs when a Notice of Trial is sent to you.

In addition, state bar associations, state or local societies of accountants or enrolled agents, or other nonprofit tax professional organizations may also be able to provide referrals to a representative who is allowed to practice before the Tax Court.

Can TAS help me with my Tax Court petition?

While you may contact TAS for assistance with the deficiency proposed in your Statutory Notice of Deficiency, working with TAS will not extend your time to file a petition with the Tax Court. TAS cannot prepare a petition for you and cannot represent you before the Tax Court. Generally, once you have petitioned the Tax Court (or any other federal court), TAS will not be able to provide further assistance, as the case is being handled by either the IRS Office of Chief Counsel or the U.S. Department of Justice.


Additional Resources:

TAS Roadmap

Starting a Case in Tax Court