Tax Notes logo

Tax Court is on the Road Again

Posted on Mar. 2, 2022

In August of 2021, the Tax Court announced that it was going live in January; however, as it resumed in-person trials, the virus flared up and the Court announced that the remaining January calendars would be remote.  At the end of January, it announced that the February calendars would also be remote.  Logical decisions in the face of the resurgence of the Omicron variant and possibly partially driven by the rules governing the courthouses that host the Tax Court as it travels around the country to 73 cities in addition to DC where it controls its own courthouse.

At the end of February, no announcement came from the Court advising what would happen, but the Court did update its Winter calendar linked below.  The Tax Court began holding in-person calendars on Monday, February 28, consistent with its August announcement that it would reopen during its Winter session and the two postponement announcements indicating it would be remote through February 25, 2022.  It held in-person calendars in Nashville, LA and San Diego consistent with its published calendar for the Winter sessions.  It held remote sessions in the scheduled small tax calendars for Seattle and for Richmond/Roanoke as indicated on its calendar.

I do not know why some of the cases on its calendar continue to be remote. While the split this week was between regular and small tax cases, that is not always the split if you look at the remainder of the Winter calendar. So, continuing remote calendars does not appear to signal a difference in the way the Court is approaching the two types of cases, but rather other factor(s) such as local courthouse restrictions.

Here are reports from around the country on the in-person calendars that began on February 28, 2022.

Mary Gillum, director of the Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands Low Income Tax Clinic, reported on the Nashville calendar:

The Legal Aid Society’s Tennessee Taxpayer Project attended a live or in-person court calendar in Nashville, Tennessee on Monday, February 28th.  We took five LITC attorneys to the calendar.  Around three IRS Attorneys attended.  Judge Urda presided over the calendar.  We consulted with five taxpayers.  It seemed to be business as usual, except for the mask requirements within the federal courthouse, plexiglass in front of the witness stand and US Tax Court Trial Clerk, contact tracing registration requirement and six foot apart seating request.  There was no mask requirement in the actual US Tax Courtroom, but most everyone wore masks.  IRS Counsel worked very diligently with us both prior to the calendar and immediately before the calendar to settle or resolve the cases.  All cases settled or received granted motions for remand or motions for continuance.  Our clinic handled all of the cases left for the calendar, except for one case handled by a private attorney. It was a very good calendar, especially for taxpayers.

Steven Jager, a (non-attorney) Tax Court practitioner and the faculty Tax Court Adviser for the Bookstein Low Income Taxpayer Clinic of Cal State Northridge, reported on the Los Angeles calendar:

I did attend the in-person session on Feb. 28 in Los Angeles, and I brought a student with me.  Judge Marvel presided over the 2 cases that had not settled prior to the calendar call.

My student and I were the only Pro Bono practitioners in the court room, but that turned out to be sufficient.  We were able to assist the one pro se petitioner who showed up for his case.  It was a short, yet productive and successful session.

Shahin Rahimi, director of the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic at the Legal Aid Society of San Diego, reported on the San Diego calendar:

[T]he LASSD LITC attended the live TCCC session yesterday w Judge Pugh here in San Diego – in person. It was very short (2 cases) and went very smoothly.

Good reports on the resumption of in-person litigation.

Figure: US-Tax-Court-Calendar-Nashville-TN-2.28.2022.jpg


Copy RID