Tax Court Peculiarities – Burden of Proof

There are some important differences in how cases are conducted in Tax Court as opposed to state and federal district courts.

In disputes over money or property in a state or district court, the creditor must sue the debtor and place evidence of the alleged debt before the court. The creditor has what is called the “burden of proof.”

In Tax Court, when challenging deficiency notices, the Service hasn’t actually assessed the tax, so technically you do not owe it yet. As discussed briefly in the Introduction, you, the petitioner, have the burden of proof to show that you do not owe the taxes that the IRS, referred to as the “respondent,” proposes to assess against you. The rules of logic say that proving a negative is impossible. But the rules of logic have little place in the wonderland of the United States Tax Court.

The respondent’s notices receive what is called a “presumption of correctness.” That is to say, you, as the petitioner, must present evidence that controverts the notice you received by a “preponderance of the evidence” in order to prevail.

In my first case, where I understood almost nothing about the process, the judge used the term “burden of proof” like a club to hammer down my requests for a statement of defense from the IRS and later, to include the hearsay the Service presented to make their case.

Nevertheless, the presumption of correctness is not absolute. You have the opportunity to place the burden of proof on the Service under § 7491, and to raise disputes with mistaken information returns, such as forms …

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The words you see above IN BLUE are active hyperlinks in the E-Book version of “ON YOUR OWN IN TAX COURT.” The E-Book edition contains extensive links to statutes, regulations, case law, and other useful authorities and resources. There is also an Appendix of actual court documents submitted by both sides. The purchase of the book includes a free half hour consultation with the author about your case.

Lysander

Lysander Venible is the author of "On Your Own in Tax Court," a book about how to save your shirt in U.S. tax court. He has been engaged with the Service for over 10 years both administratively and in tax court.

If you have questions, topics or a situation you'd like to discuss, comment below or click the "About/Contact" tab above.

Lysander is not an attorney and it is not his intent to offer legal advice.
Lysander

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