Saturday, October 5, 2019
Forbes: Tax Court Can’t Order IRS To Not Jerk People Around, by Peter J. Reilly:
Jeffrey Davis is my new hero. From the record in Judge Ruwe’s Tax Court opinion, it appears that he got the IRS to back down on their notice of deficiency, but he didn’t stop there. He went on to recover $154.98 in costs.
But that is not the heroic part. He also sought to have the Tax Court order the IRS to not jerk other people around in the way that he was jerked around. In that quixotic quest he failed, because as the mantra goes the Tax Court is a court of “limited jurisdiction. Here is the story. ...
Mr. Davis contacted Senator Cory Booker’s office. They got the Taxpayer Advocate Service involved. Since the ninety day clock was ticking, there was also a Tax Court petition filed.
Thanks to the Taxpayer Advocate, the IRS backed down — “respondent reversed his position, issued a "no change" certification that petitioners' 2014 tax return was accepted as filed, and mailed petitioners a proposed decision document reflecting his concession of the deficiency.”
Admit it. You or I would have been happy with that and stopped. But not Mr. Davis. He wanted his expenses of $154.98, but more importantly — here is the heroic quixotic part — he wanted the Tax Court to order the IRS to not ever jerk anybody around the way that he was jerked around.
Petitioners additionally requested that this Court adopt a rule that would be applied when two or more Federal agencies provide conflicting information to a taxpayer, the taxpayer discloses the conflict in his or her return, the taxpayer provides documentation supporting his or her position, and the taxpayer continues to respond timely to respondent. Under petitioners' proposed rule, if all of these requirements are met, respondent would be prevented from seeking a deficiency.
Whatever the merits of such a rule might be, it will not be coming from the Tax Court, because of its oft mention “limited jurisdiction”. Congress has not given it the authority to create operating rules for the IRS. It’s too bad, but I have to congratulate Mr. Davis on the effort. Thinking about how to help the next person avoid the aggravation you have experienced is one of the things that helps make the world a better place.