Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

6th Circuit: Tax Court Is Not a "Court" and Thus Lacks Power to Transfer Case to District Court

The Sixth Circuit yesterday affirmed a Tax Court's decision that it lacked authority 28 U.S.C. § 1631 to transfer a case to the federal district court becasue the Tax Court is not a "court" for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 610Mobley v. Commissioner, No. 07-2019 (6th Cir. 7/8/08):

What emerges from these two provisions is the following rule: Whenever a civil action is filed in a court, as defined in § 610, and that court decides that it lacks jurisdiction over the dispute, it may transfer the action, if it is in the interest of justice, to any other such court in which the action originally could have been brought. No one disputes that the Mobleys established at least three of the requirements for a transfer: The Tax Court lacked jurisdiction over the dispute; a transfer would serve the interest of justice; and the court to which the Mobleys want the case transferred is a court as defined in § 610—namely, a “district court[] of the United States.” The question is whether they satisfied the fourth element: Is the Tax Court, where the claimants initially filed the action, a “court” as defined in § 610? ...

When Congress, in other words, decided to leave the Tax Court in Title 26 (as an independent agency) rather than moving it to Title 28 (as part of the Judiciary), it deleted—and apparently intentionally omitted—the Tax Court from the courts listed in § 610. All of this history suggests that, whatever the ultimate reach of § 610, it does not include the Tax Court. ...

To our knowledge (and counsel’s knowledge), every other court to address the issue has agreed that the Tax Court is not a "court as defined in section 610."

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