April 26, 2018
What is U.S. Tax Court?
The mission of the United States Tax Court is to provide a national forum to expeditiously resolve disputes between taxpayers and the IRS. The Tax Court has 19 presidentially appointment judges. All of the judges have expertise in the tax laws. Although the Court is physically located in Washington, D.C., the judges travel nationwide to conduct trials. Charleston is the only designated U.S. Tax Court trial city in West Virginia. Tax Court comes to Charleston once a year.
Why litigate in Tax Court?
A taxpayer who wants to dispute a federal tax debt has litigation forum options. A taxpayer can litigate a tax matter in Federal District Court, the Federal Court of Claims, the Bankruptcy Court, or the Tax Court. In order to file in Federal District Court or the Federal Court of Claims, the taxpayer must first pay the taxes owed in full, claim a refund with the IRS, and if disallowed file a complaint in the Federal District Court or the Federal Court of Claims. In rare situations where a debtor has sought protection under the bankruptcy provisions, the Bankruptcy Court can determine the extent of the debt to the IRS when the debtor has petitioned under Title 11 of the U. S. Code.
Unlike the other forums, a taxpayer can petition the Tax Court without having to pay the taxes owed up front. A taxpayer can also apply for a waiver of the Tax Court filing fee. Tax Court is an attractive forum because a taxpayer can have her day in court in front of a tax expert with simplified court proceedings, and without paying a filing fee or paying the taxes owed up front.
What is the U.S. Tax Court Calendar Call Program?
Seventy-five percent of Tax Court petitioners are pro se. To facilitate greater access to legal representation, the Tax Court created the Calendar Call Program. In 2012, LAWV began participating in the U.S. Tax Court’s Calendar Call Program. Calendar Call gives taxpayers an opportunity for free legal presentation even as late as the day of trial. On the actual day of trial and before the docket is called, the judge announces that free legal representation is available from LAWV and other clinics… this the “Calendar Call.”
The Calendar Call is a U.S. Tax Court program it is not part of the Low Income Tax Clinic Program.
What is Pro Bono Day?
LAWV with the support of IRS Area Counsel created “Pro Bono Day” for the Charleston trial date. Pro Bono days are settlement days held thirty days before trial. Generally, there are at least two pro bono days before trial date. Pro Bono Day occurs a month before the Calendar Call.
Approximately sixty days before trial, all the Calendar Call clinics and IRS Area Counsel agree on potential settlement days. IRS Counsel sends a flyer created by LAWV to all taxpayers on the docket who are still pro se. The flyer lists the contact information of LAWV and the other clinics.
A potential client contacts a clinic directly and requests services. If the attorney accepts the taxpayer as a client, settlement talks are initiated with IRS Area Counsel. IRS Counsel attorneys are always available to answer questions about the case and even settle the case on Pro Bono Day.
Pro Bono Day is a partnership that LAWV developed IRS Counsel and is not part of the LITC Program.