When a person runs into a controversy over how much they owe in taxes to the United States, he or she, personally or in the name of a business, may take the matter before the United States Tax Court.
This type of court is a little different than the more widely-known federal district and appellate courts. The key differences are that, as the name implies, the court specializes in handling tax controversies, and that the judges are not appointed for a lifetime term.
The rules and procedures of this court are also a little different, as they are more geared toward handling tax issues.
The Tax Court resolves arguments over how much a taxpayer may owe the IRS after the IRS has determined what it calls a deficiency, that is, a shortfall in how much a person owes versus how much he or she has paid. It also hears other tax-related issues, including issues involving how workers are classified and issues about whether taxpayers someone is entitled to certain forms of relief from tax debt they otherwise would owe.
Taxpayers who timely file a petition with the Tax Court usually hold off on paying what the IRS claims they owe until after the case gets resolved. Unless an agreement gets reached, the matter ordinarily goes to trial before a judge of the Tax Court, who then enters a decision that can be appealed.
Certain proceedings can be handled through what is called a small tax case procedure, but any decision entered at the end of such a case cannot be appealed.
Illinois taxpayers in the Chicago area who wish to explore the option of taking a case to Tax Court should consider speaking to an experienced attorney right away, as important deadlines apply.