The U.S. Tax Court is a unique tribunal. It was originally created as the U.S. Board of Tax Appeals and functioned as an independent agency in the EXECUTIVE BRANCH of the government. Pursuant to the TAX REFORM ACT OF 1969 (83 Stat. 730), its name was changed to U.S. Tax Court, and as of the early 2000s it is an independent judicial body in the legislative branch. Nineteen judges, appointed by the president, serve on the court; although the court is headquartered in Washington, D.C., the judges travel to other specially designated cities to conduct trials.
The Tax Court adjudicates various controversies involving overpayments or underpayments of taxes. Unlike the district courts, the Tax Court does not require a citizen to pay the amount of tax in dispute and file a claim for a refund before it hears and decides the matter. The taxpayer must, however, request and receive from the INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE a statutory notice of deficiency that states the disputed sum. The Tax Court has no jurisdiction unless the notice has been issued and a petition for a hearing has been filed within a specified time.
Simplified procedures are available for small tax cases where the amount in controversy does not exceed $50,000. The decision of the Tax Court in such a case is final and is not subject to review by any court.
The Tax Court has jurisdiction to render declaratory judgments in many areas, such as the qualification of retirement plans, the tax-exempt status of charitable organizations, and the status of interest on certain government obligations. In addition, the Tax Court may issue injunctions in certain assessment cases and decide taxpayers' appeals from denial of administrative costs by the Internal Revenue Service.
All Tax Court decisions, except those in small tax cases, are subject to review by the courts of appeals and, by writ of certiorari, by the U.S. Supreme Court.
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