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Tax Court to Update Case Management System

The US Tax Court (Tax Court) recently announced upcoming changes to its case management system. DAWSON (Docket Access Within a Secure Online Network), named after former Tax Court Judge Howard A. Dawson, Jr., who passed away in 2016, is expected to be active by the end of 2020. To facilitate the transition to DAWSON, the Tax Court's current e-filing system will become inaccessible and all electronic files will become read-only beginning at 5:00 pm EST on November 20, 2020. Cases will remain electronically viewable, but no documents may be e-filed during this time. Importantly, no orders or opinions are anticipated to be issued during the transition. Due to the lack of e-filing during the transition, Tax Court judges are trying to avoid setting deadlines that fall within this period. If a filing is required, it must be done the old-fashioned way on paper and by mail, with a proper certificate demonstrating service on the opposing party. Notable improvements in...

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Results in Tax Court Trial Sessions Cancellations

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has now impacted the operations of the United States Tax Court (Tax Court). This morning, the Tax Court announced that after assessing all relevant factors relating to COVID-19, including travel and public health considerations, the trial sessions for March 16, 2020, March 17, 2020, March 23, 2020, and March 30, 2020, are cancelled. Orders are currently being issued in several cases reflecting the cancellations, which impact trial sessions in the following cities: Boston, Massachusetts Chicago, Illinois Dallas, Texas Hartford, Connecticut Milwaukee, Wisconsin Los Angeles, California Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Provo (Salt Lake City), Utah San Francisco, California The Tax Court expects the parties to continue to work together to exchange information and address pending issues. It remains to be seen if the Tax Court will cancel other trial sessions scheduled for April, May and June (the Tax Court does not hold...

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Tax Court Rules State Corporate Incentives Are NOT Taxable Income Under Federal Law

Many states and localities give incentives for business to move or transact in their locations. There has always been a question of whether these incentives are taxable income under federal income tax law. Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 118, as amended by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, P.L. 115-97, provides that “[i]n the case of a corporation, gross income does not include any contribution to the capital of the taxpayer….(b) For purposes of subsection (a), the term “contribution to the capital of the taxpayer” does not include—…(2) any contribution by any governmental entity or civic group (other than a contribution made by a shareholder as such).” In a recent case, the US Tax Court ruled that certain cash grants given by the State of New Jersey fit squarely within IRC section 118, and were not taxable to the corporate taxpayer. Brokertec Holdings, Inc. v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2019-32. Brokertec Holdings is a financial services company based in Jersey...

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Tax Court Provides Operational Update during Government Shutdown

As we previously discussed, the United States Tax Court (Tax Court) closed its doors on December 28, 2018, until further notice. However, trial sessions scheduled for the weeks of January 7, and 14, 2019, were to proceed as scheduled. The Tax Court has updated its website to confirm that the trial sessions scheduled for the week of January 14, 2019, will proceed as scheduled, but that trial sessions scheduled for the week of January 28, 2019, in El Paso, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, and Lubbock are canceled. A decision regarding the trial sessions for the week of February 4, 2019, will be made on or before January 18, 2019. As a result of the shutdown, the Tax Court did not issue any Orders or Opinions from December 31, 2018, to January 9, 2019. It started issuing Orders again on January 10, 2019, but no Opinions have been issued since December 27, 2018. Practice Point: In addition to its impact on governmental agencies, the government...

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Tax Court to Shutdown Until Further Notice

The United States Tax Court (Tax Court) has announced that it will be shutting down starting today, December 28, 2018 at 11:59 p.m., and will remain closed until further notice. However, trial sessions scheduled for the weeks of January 7 and 14, 2019, will proceed as scheduled. Electronic filing and electronic access to the Tax Court’s docket system will remain available and taxpayers may comply with statutory deadlines for documents required to be paper filed by timely mailing such documents using approved delivery services. Further updates will be provided on the Tax Court’s website. Practice Point: The government shutdown continues to impact government agencies and the judicial system. For a detailed discussion of the impact of the shutdown on the Internal Revenue Service, see here.

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A Lot Is Going on at the Tax Court

The US Tax Court is alive with action these days. First, two new judges will start soon after they are sworn in. Ms. Elizabeth Copeland and Mr. Patrick Urda were nominated on August 2017 for 15-year terms to fill openings created by retiring tax court judges. They were confirmed on August 28, 2018. Ms. Copeland will replace Judge James S. Halpern, who retired from the court on August 28, 2018, but continues to perform judicial duties as a Senior Judge on recall. Mr. Urda will replace Judge Diana L. Kroupa, who retired from the court in June 2014. Second, the Tax Court announced that Senior Judge Carolyn P. Chiechi will retire, effective October 19, 2018. Judge Chiechi was appointed by President George H.W. Bush October 1, 1992, and took senior status in 2007. Any cases submitted or assigned to Judge Chiechi will be reassigned. Finally, Senior Judge David Laro passed away on September 21, 2018. More information about Judge Laro can be found on the TaxProf...

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Judge Foley Assumes The Reins as New Chief Judge of US Tax Court

Following up on our prior post, Judge Maurice B. Foley takes over today as Chief Judge of the US Tax Court (Tax Court). The term as Chief Judge spans two years and involves several statutory and administrative duties, including but not limited to the assignment of cases, appointment of Special Trial Judges, review of draft opinions, and determination of which cases will be reviewed by the full court. For those interested in a historical analysis of the Tax Court, which was recently revised in 2014, see here.

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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...

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The Fifth Circuit Puts an End to the Madness with its March Opinion

We have all heard the famous quote about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit applied this concept in its March 8 opinion in Annamalai v. Comm’r, No. 17-60255. There, the issue was whether the taxpayers could extend into perpetuity the 90-day deadline to file an appeal by filing successive motions to vacate a Tax Court decision. Under the facts presented, the answer was no. Taxpayers have 90 days after a decision of the Tax Court to file an appeal. If a party makes a timely motion to vacate or revise the Tax Court’s decision, the 90 days runs from the later of either entry of the order disposing the motion or entry of a new decision. In Annamalai, the taxpayers filed successive motions to vacate a Tax Court decision. After the Tax Court entered a final decision in favor of the government, the taxpayers unsuccessfully moved to vacate the decision. Rather than filing a notice of...

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