In a rare episode of cooperation and bipartisanship, the United States Senate approved two of President Obama’s nominees for the U.S. Tax Court in early August. So the tax court judges may be filling out.
The approval shows a unique instance of cooperation by the Senate during President Obama’s administration. Filibustering and preventing up or down votes for judicial candidates has become standard operating procedure under the divided and all too seemingly dysfunctional legislative body.
Plenty of Obama’s judicial nominees have been or are being filibustered, but the fact that the Senate approved the two nominees on a voice vote shows that when it came to the tax court, the games have been stopped.
The Tax Court can have up to 19 members, and Obama has appointed five of them already. He’s nominated a sixth judge, but only time will tell whether that one gets approved by the what’s considered the world’s most exclusive club.
Having judges on the Tax Court is no small deal. It hears up to 90 percent of legal disputes between the IRS and American individuals and businesses. In short, the Tax Court is all tax litigation, all the time, where tax attorneys take their tax disputes on behalf of clients who have been deemed to owe back taxes.
The Tax Court hears and decides some high-profile cases. Currently before the court is the case of the heirs of the Minnesota Twins baseball team. The organization intends to fight the IRS’s efforts to collect tax revenue after the team owner died in 2009.
The court also decided the fate of complicated arrangements meant to hide assets. John Hancock Life Insurance Company recently lost a case before the U.S. Tax Court regarding multiple leveraged lease transactions with $560 million at stake. The arrangements typically have assets purchased from and then leased back to public entities or corporations.
With more judges on the U.S. Tax Court, tax attorneys and tax litigation will be going into high speed. They’ll look to move quickly, litigating and disputing tax deficiency judgments. But if the IRS is accusing you or your business of owing back taxes to the government, a tax attorney can be a great resource for getting your or your business’s finances in good order.
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