COVID-19 Puts Remote Version of the Tax Court in Effect

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Court recently announced plans to hold remote proceedings. Taxpayers will be able to listen into the sessions if they want.

Jun 16th 2020
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The Tax Court will be coming to you remotely, until further notice is given. The Court will operate remotely based on procedures revealed on May 29. You can peruse the details—as well as scanning sample orders and notices—on the Tax Court’s website at https://www.ustaxcourt.gov.

Back in March, at the onset of the novel coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., the Tax Court cancelled all its trial sessions. Then it closed down its headquarters in the nation’s capital, but still allowed taxpayers to file petitions and otherwise meet tax deadlines. However, mail delivered to the Tax Court is being held until the building reopens.

In other words, a “Notice Setting Case for Trial” now closely resembles a Zoom invite you might receive from business associates or friends and family. Normally, the Tax Court conducts trial sessions in 74 cities across the country and decides disputes between taxpayers and the IRS. The Court operates independently and is in no way affiliated with the nation’s tax collection agency.

Other information for using Zoomgov—that’s the actual name—is provided on the website. You don’t need to have a personal Zoom account and the service is completely free of charge.

Furthermore, you can find out the latest on the court’s remote proceedings by tuning into the Court’s real-time audio. The dial-in info each session is posted on the website.

Note that participating parties must still meet requirements for scheduled conference calls and pretrial calls. If they don’t, the case may be dismissed and the judge will then enter an order against the non-compliant party. The new procedures also affect certain trial deadlines. For example, a pre-trial memo is now due 21 days ahead of trial, instead of in 14 days.

It’s a rapidly changing world and taxpayers and tax practitioners alike will have to adapt. These procedures are expected to remain in place for the foreseeable future.

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