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Update on the Tax Court

Posted on July 30, 2020

At the ABA online Court Procedure Committee program on July 22, Chief Judge Foley provided some details concerning recent events at the Tax Court. He started by mentioning the hearings that had occurred the previous day in the Senate Finance Committee regarding the two individuals nominated to the Court. Those individuals are Alina Marshall who currently works as an attorney at the Tax Court and Christian Weiler, a tax lawyer practicing in New Orleans. At the end of this post you can find their opening statements to the Committee.

Judge Foley stated that the Tax Court cancelled 80 trial sessions this spring due to the virus, 44 regular sessions, 24 small case sessions and 12 special trial sessions. Starting on March 18, 2020, the Tax Court asked the post office to hold its mail which the post office did until the Clerk’s office reopened on July 10, 2020. At that point the postal service delivered 174 boxes of mail to the Clerk plus the Clerk’s office received mail from the private delivery services. During this 113-day period the court issued 83 opinions compared with 71 opinions issued during the 113-day period immediately preceding the Court’s building closure due to the virus.

As previously posted, the Tax Court updated its web site on July 17,2020. The new case management system that the Court previously announced would be implemented in July is now slated for implementation by the end of the year.

Judge Foley talked about the system for conducting trials online which is coming this fall. The pre-trial process will be modified. Limited entry of appearance may occur earlier. Electronic access will be available throughout the trial. The Court is going to put up mock electronic trial videos on its web site starting Monday, July 27. He described these as in the genre of home movies. He also spoke of Tax Court judges becoming more available to Zoom into classrooms and other settings.

Tax Court trials will be open to the public through an audio stream. The Court’s new online FAQ and example videos address this and many other aspects of Zoomgov trials.

Opening Statement of Alina I. Marshall
Nominee for Judge, United States Tax Court

United States Senate Committee on Finance
July 21, 2020

Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Wyden, and members of the Finance Committee, thank you for holding this hearing to consider my nomination to serve as a Judge on the United States Tax Court. I am grateful to you and your staff for the opportunity to be here today.

My husband Sean, my daughter Elizabeth, and my son Luke are here with me this morning. Their love and support brighten my days and renew my enthusiasm. My parents Jackie and Florin Ionescu, and my inlaws Michele and George Hall and Barbara and David Marshall, are all supporting me remotely and I remain thankful for their patience and encouragement. I am grateful to Chief Judge Foley, the Judges of the Tax Court and the Tax Court family, who have allowed me to work with them on so many challenging and exciting opinions and projects. I also want to thank my generous and supportive friends and neighbors, especially the Walshes.

I am thankful to President Trump for nominating me to serve on the Tax Court. This chance to chase my dream is truly humbling and a reminder of the opportunities that are uniquely available in the United States. I remain amazed that an immigrant who learned to speak English in the public school system and from Sesame Street would have the chance to meet with you today and, if confirmed, to serve as a Judge. My family’s journey of coming from Romania and building a new life is a tale of the American dream, and the chances and resources given to us inspire me to give back, promote opportunity, and serve others. For much of the last decade, I have had the privilege of serving at the Tax Court.

I have been a member of the Tax Court family since 2010 and have served as Counsel to the Chief Judge since 2013. I have the honor of advising the Chief Judge in the exercise of his statutory duty to review opinions before public release. I also have the privilege of helping with and advising on administrative and policy matters, including as the Court has continued to serve its mission during this pandemic. The Court quickly changed its ways of conducting business, and it has been exhilarating to participate the Court’s adoption of new opinion review, case management, and trial procedures. Given my time at the Tax Court and my experience at both large and small law firms, I believe I would be well-equipped to try cases and dispose of pending motions carefully, accurately, and efficiently if I am confirmed.

The Tax Court is a special place, both because of its feeling of family and because of everyone’s commitment to the Court’s crucial role in supporting the United States’ system of voluntary self- assessment. Everyone works hard to meet the Court’s mission of being “a national forum for the expeditious resolution of disputes between taxpayers and the Internal Revenue Service; for careful consideration of the merits of each case; and to ensure a uniform interpretation of the Internal Revenue Code.” I already seek to serve the Court’s mission by reviewing opinions and advising the Chief Judge, and I believe I could further support the Court’s goals by carefully hearing cases and fairly applying the law to the facts of each case.

Thank you again for your consideration. I look forward to answering the Committee’s questions.

Opening Statement of Christian Weiler
Nominee to be a Judge of the United States Tax Court

Senate Committee on Finance
July 21, 2020

Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Wyden and to the other Senators on the Finance Committee, thank you for holding this hearing.

I am honored to be nominated to serve as a judge of the United States Tax Court. I would like to also thank my beautiful wife and four children for their love and encouragement throughout my nomination process. I know that I would not be appearing before you without their support.

The role of the Tax Court, albeit limited in scope, is very important. The Tax Court provides a critical independent forum for the resolution of civil tax disputes with the IRS. The Court hears all types of tax cases, which can vary substantially in size and complexity depending on the taxpayer. If confirmed, I pledge to decide all matters in an impartial manner, by applying the facts before me to the relevant provisions of the Tax Code and by also looking to controlling precedent. I genuinely believe the Tax Court serves an important function in safeguarding the fairness of our nation’s tax system.

In my hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana, I have had the pleasure of working with my father and law partner, John Weiler for some fifteen (15) years at the law firm of Weiler & Rees. In working with my father, I have not only had the privilege of being mentored by a truly outstanding tax attorney with unparalleled knowledge and skills; I have also had the privilege of learning from a great human being. By my father’s example, he has shown me how to treat others with respect and kindness in all matters. My father has also shown me the importance of listening to my clients’ problems and how to work alongside them to help guide them to a resolution of their legal issue. In short, I believe the advocacy and personal skills I have acquired while working with my father will serve me well as a judge.

Formed by my strong Christian faith, I believe we are all children of God, and therefore not only do I pledge to serve as an impartial judge, I also pledge to treat all parties and attorneys who may appear before me with respect and kindness.

Also, while the Tax Court hears large and complex tax issues; it most often hears small tax matters filed by self-represented litigants. I am proud of my volunteer work as an attorney with the Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Pro Bono Tax Clinic, where I have gained valuable experience in matters commonly before the Tax Court, such as audits of the earned income tax credit, innocent spouse claims for relief and collection due process appeals. I believe my experience with these specific tax matters will serve me well as a judge.

Finally, if confirmed, I look forward to serving my Country.

Thank you for your time and consideration and I look forward to answering any questions that the committee might have.

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