The impact of COVID-19 is still being felt around the country. As of today, Johns Hopkins is reporting 1,820,523 cases of COVID-19 in the United States, with over 105,644 deaths.
In March of 2020, the U.S. Tax Court began taking measures to limit potential exposure to the virus inside courtrooms. Months later, the Court advises that “the pandemic continues to present public health risks and challenges, particularly where multiple individuals come together in a courtroom.”
Currently, the United States Tax Court building remains closed to visitors, and all trial sessions through June 30, 2020, are canceled.
But that doesn’t mean that matters aren’t proceeding. The Court has advised that “until further notice, Court proceedings will be conducted remotely.” The details for the procedures for operating remotely were adopted on May 29, 2020. You can read the details, and see sample orders and notices in Administrative Order No. 2020-02 (downloads as a PDF) and on the Court’s website under “Forms.”
That means that the Notice Setting Case For Trial now resembles a Zoom invite:
Information on how to use Zoomgov (yes, really) can be found on the Court’s website. A personal Zoom account is not required, and there is no cost to use the system.
Don’t fret: you can still find out what’s happening with the Court: public access to the Court’s remote proceedings will be made available via realtime audio with dial-in information for each session posted on the Court website.
And yes, deadlines still matter, but they’ve been modified a bit. On April 9, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued guidance in the form of Notice 2020-23 (downloads as a PDF) that extended the deadline to file a Tax Court petition and a notice of appeal from a Tax Court decision. If the deadline for filing a petition or notice of appeal previously fell on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020, the filing deadline is now extended to July 15, 2020.
I know that many of you are used to filing by mail. You can file electronically (it’s easy, trust me). However, if you still want to submit documents by mail, you should be aware that mail sent through the United States Postal Service is being held while the Tax Court building is closed. It’s possible, however, that items sent through the United States Postal Service or a designated delivery service (such as FedEx or UPS) may be returned as undeliverable. If that happens, resend the document to the Court as soon as possible after the Court announces it has resumed receiving mail. Hold onto that original mailing: you’ll want to include a copy of the original envelope or container in which it was first sent with your resubmission.
The U.S. Tax Court is headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Court conducts trial sessions in 74 cities across the country and hears disputes between taxpayers (petitioners) and the IRS (respondent). The Court is independent of is not affiliated with the IRS.