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The judge wants to have a telephone "conference". How can we protect ourselves?

Dallas, TX |

This is a Tax Court case. I just got a call from the judge's secretary who wants to set up a telephone "conference" between ourselves and the judge and the IRS attorney. We are concerned that we are going to be ambushed if we agree to this. They have not told us what the agenda of this "conference" is going to be. In the past, the IRS has asked us to participate in a "conference", when in fact what they intend to do is hold a hearing. In addition, I have read that we have no right to record a phone "conference". Don't we have a right to know the agenda of any so-called "conference" and to a record of what goes on?

Attorney Answers 4

  1. Normal and routine request ( though I am not a tax attorney) in many cases.

    It does occur to me that if you believe the judge and the IRS are attempting an 'ambush' you are very likely in WAY over your head. I strongly recommend you hire an attorney immediately.

    Don't be penny wise and pound foolish where the IRS is concerned.

    I am licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, answering your query does not create an attorney-client relationship and I AM NOT providing you legal advice. You should speak with an attorney to whom you have provided all the facts, before you take steps that may impact your legal rights--or rights to recovery of damages. I wish you the best of luck with your situation.

  2. Conferences are no unusual in Tax Court matters.Your assertion "when in fact what they intend to do is hold a hearing" cannot occur because it would be a violation of your due process rights. You have no choice but to participate in the conference. Ask the judge at the beginning of the conference what the nature of the conference is. Ask for a court reporter if you have additional concerns. I am not aware any tax court procedure requiring that an agenda be provided for any court matter.

    The United States Tax Court is a highly specialized court with its own procedures. Familiarize yourself with them.

    THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE. They are provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. The answer to question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation. Mr. Smith is licensed to practice law throughout the state of California with offices in Los Angeles County. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States, and is also licensed to practice before the United States Tax Court. His phone number is 323-292-4116 or his email address is

  3. Ok - please hear me on this. You really do not want to represent yourself in Tax Court. There are tooooooo many very technical rules that a layman just can't begin to grasp. At least half don't even make logical sense unless you are seriously into tax to begin with.

    Tax court ruling can be devastating. If you are willing to fight, then bring in tax attorney to help. If you really and truely can't afford one, then contact the local bar association and see if someone can help you pro bono.

    One wrong statement that is half true could sink your entire case. The attorneys for the IRS are well trained and it is their job to talk you into saying what they want you to say. Don't do this without an attorney.

    This is by far the best advice I can give you and I wish you the best of luck.

  4. Each Tax Court judge has their own procedures but in general, it's likely the court wants to hold a telephone conference because the judge wants to know the status of the case. You are required to give all your evidence, in an orderly arrangement, to the IRS well before trial. You are also required to negotiate signed "stipulations" with the IRS. (Be careful!) And, you are required to attempt to settle the matter before trial.

    If it is apparent you will go to trial the judge will want to narrow the issues to those that are not stipulated. You must disclose all your witnesses to the IRS well before trial, with addresses and telephone numbers.

    You must also prepare a "Pre-trial Memorandum" using the form the judge sent to you listing the parties, the case, the law and the facts you intend to prove.

    Do not neglect the case, be obstinate or refuse to work with the IRS. The judge might dismiss your case for failure to prosecute!