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Tax Court Posts New Citation and Style Manual

A substantial amount of our practice over the years has involved representing clients before the US Tax Court. And, we both started our tax careers clerking at the Tax Court and working on dozens of orders and opinions. Needless to say, we are familiar with the ins and outs of the Tax Court.

When it comes to the system of citation and style used by the Tax Court in its orders and opinions, it generally endorses use of the Bluebook. Our historic practice in filing documents with the Tax Court involved following the citation and style used in its orders and opinions, even where that citation and style varies from the Bluebook. Based on our clerkships and familiarity with many of the judges, we have always believed that clerks and judges prefer to read filings that use the same citation and style that is used in orders and opinions.

The Tax Court recently issued a new Citation and Style Manual (Manual) for the purpose of providing consistency within the Tax Court and with other federal courts. The policies and procedures in the Manual are intended to serve as guidance for documents issued by the Tax Court to the public, although each authoring judge retains discretion on citation and style. A couple of notable changes include the use of italics rather than underscoring for signals, citations and emphasis, as well as changes in the way Internal Revenue Code provisions and US Department of the Treasury Regulations are cited.

Practice Point: It may seem trivial to some but following the Manual is important for taxpayers and their representatives when filing documents in the Tax Court. Accordingly, we recommend reviewing the Manual and conforming your filings to the citation and style set forth therein. Making your points in filings in a clear, direct manner using the style recognized and accepted by the Tax Court will assist you in being successful in your Tax Court litigation.




Tax Court Opinions Are Searchable (Again)

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.




Are Changes Looming over the Tax Court’s Procedure Rules?

Tax controversy practitioners are undoubtedly aware of the gradual movement over the years to conform certain Tax Court procedure rules (Tax Court Rules) to those of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In many ways, this makes sense to ensure uniformity of tax cases regardless of whether a taxpayer litigates his tax dispute in a refund forum in the US District Court or the US Court of Federal Claims, or prior to payment of tax in the Tax Court. Below we note a few important areas of divergence between the different rules, and point out situations where the Tax Court Rules do not address a particular matter. These matters were discussed at the recent Tax Court Judicial Conference held in Chicago last week.

Amicus Briefs

As we have discussed before, amicus briefs are not uncommon in other courts. However, the Tax Court does not have specific rules on the topic and, instead, permits each judge to decide a case-by-case basis whether to permit the filing of an amicus brief. Although the Tax Court has discussed standards for filing amicus briefs in unpublished orders, given the nationwide importance of many issues that arise in Tax Court litigation, it may be time for the court to issue specific rules addressing the issue. (more…)




Maintaining Confidentiality While Navigating Cross-Border Transactions

Today, taxing authorities across the globe, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), are increasing their efforts to gather and share sensitive taxpayer information, often aggressively seeking copies of tax advice, opinions and analysis prepared by counsel and other advisors. In some situations, tax advisors specifically draft their advice to be shared with third parties, but frequently the IRS seeks advice that was always intended to be confidential client communications—for example, drafts and emails containing unfinished analysis and unguarded commentary. Sharing this latter type of advice could be problematic for taxpayers because such advice could be used as a road map for examiners during an audit and may mislead the IRS regarding the strength or weakness of a taxpayer’s reporting positions.

Last month, we spoke to tax executives at Tax Executives Institute forums in Houston and Chicago about the IRS’s increased use of treaty requests to obtain US taxpayers’ documents and information from international tax authorities. (more…)




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