Tuesday, October 5, 2021
Benjamin Alarie & Stefanie Di Giandomenico (Blue J Legal), Seventh Circuit Affirms Spouse Is Not So Innocent on Appeal, 172 Tax Notes Fed. 2149 (Sept. 27, 2021):
Clients often ask tax practitioners what their prospects of success are in litigation. Although the practitioner may have an opinion on the issue, the chances of success are often difficult if not impossible to quantify accurately and reliably. The question becomes even more complicated at the appellate stage because standards of review come into play, and the evidence to draw on is generally limited to what has already been considered by the lower court. New technology is bringing about change. Practitioners can now leverage machine learning systems trained on data from all other relevant decisions to assess the strength of their appeals on the merits. Consequently, tax practitioners and clients can together make data-driven decisions about whether to appeal and, if they do so, to formulate an optimal strategy.
In this article, we examine Rogers [v. Commissioner, No. 20-2789 (7th Cir. Aug. 17, 2021)], a case about innocent spouse relief that was recently decided by the Seventh Circuit. We use this case to illustrate how Blue J’s machine learning technology could have been used by the appellant’s counsel to assess the likelihood of success on appeal and the key factors required to succeed.
The appeal in question relates to two Tax Court decisions denying a wife innocent spouse and equitable relief under section 6015(b) and (f), respectively. Both decisions were affirmed by the Seventh Circuit. Blue J’s machine learning technology predicted with greater than 95 percent confidence that based on the facts accepted by the lower court, the decisions would stand.
Prior TaxProf Blog coverage: