The US Tax Court gave taxpayers and tax practitioners a belated Christmas gift when it announced that the Opinion search feature is back. This news comes on the heels of the Tax Court’s reintroduction of the Order search function earlier this month.
The Opinion search function allows the public to search for specific cases by name or docket number or run general searches by a keyword or phrase, judge, date range or opinion type (see here for an explanation of opinion types). Unlike the Tax Court’s prior case management system, the new system allows the public to search Bench Opinions. Guidance from the Tax Court on using the Opinion and Order search functions can be found here.
Results are available for opinions in the Tax Court’s system for cases filed on or after May 1, 1986. Thus, the public will need to use other resources in order to obtain older cases. Opinions are also available for cases where the docket is sealed, which is an improvement over the Order search function which does not return results for sealed cases.
Practice Point: The return of the Opinion search feature is an exciting development. It is extremely helpful in searching for specific opinions and is also a useful tool when searching whether a particular judge has dealt with certain issues in the past. Unfortunately, the Tax Court still has not fixed the issue where its case management system seals the entire docket and not just the specific items ordered sealed, but we are hopeful this issue will be resolved soon.