Tax Court Will Go Dark For December

Tax Court Will Go Dark For December

I just picked up on an extraordinary piece of news that has been around for nearly a week with little notice. The Tax Court will be launching a new case management system called DAWSON (Docket Access Within a Secure Online Network). This is a nod of respect to the late Judge Howard Dawson who served the court for over fifty years before passing away in 2016. That is not the extraordinary part.

The Dark Month Of December

What is extraordinary is that the Tax Court’s existing system will shut down before Thanksgiving and DAWSON will not come on till after Christmas. Nothing new electronic goes in after 5:00PM on November 20th and it is expected that DAWSON will be up on December 28th. But there is more.

Here is the most extraordinary thing. During the hiatus the Tax Court will issue no orders or opinions. Now there are at least two people who find that part of it stunning. That would be me and Lew Taishoff, who just issued a heads up about the press release after noticing that the rest of the tax blogosphere and press has not commented on the release.

What Can We Do?

I actually kind of like the notion of a month of silence from the Tax Court. My original blogging strategy was to read as much current original source material as I could and write about the things that I find interesting. The Tax Court was by far my best source.

Over the years though rather than having my posts be essentially reactions to opinions, I have done more digging. Also I have found that there are ongoing story arcs that demand attention. Kent Hovind alone could keep me going if I had more patience with Youtube. Bottom line is that I have fallen woefully behind in reading current cases and the December hiatus will give me a chance to catch up.

But what will happen to Lew Taishoff? Mr. Taishoff blogs the Tax Court with fierce intensity. He posts on decisions before the ink is dry on them or maybe we should say while the electrons are still excited. And he even goes through the Tax Court orders. Well he has made it through government shutdowns and other dry spells. So I suppose that he will make it through this drought.

Use The Post Office

The Tax Court will not be closed during this period. People will just be doing business by mail.

Taxpayers can comply with statutory deadlines for filing petitions, notices of appeal, or other documents by timely mailing them to the Court. Timeliness of mailing is determined by the postmark of the United States Postal Service or the delivery certificate of a designated private delivery service.

I don’t have expertise in the fine points of filing things in courts, but there is something that I have learned from reading Tax Court decisions. Don’t mess with its deadlines. Reilly’s Seventeenth Law of Tax Planning – Don’t cut you deadlines close and use the US mail with proof of mailing – was developed from reading Tax Court decisions.

Forget about the “designated private delivery” services. There are too many cases where people thought they had a valid private delivery service and were caught up by some nuance. And just be a sport and go to the Post Office and get a time stamped receipt from an actual person. And forget about it being called the “mailbox rule”. Bring it to the clerk behind the counter.

Is This How You Remember Someone?

I can see how the Tax Court would want to memorialize the long service of Judge Dawson. I was part of regional firm that had a relatively brief existence before selling to a not quite Big 4. We lost several partners to the sorts of things people die of in their fifties and named conference rooms after them. It was a little wrenching when we shifted away from that and named them after states or something like that.

Regardless, I think the room names were nice and I even had an eye on one of the unnamed ones mentioning my preference to younger partners just in case. But the prospect of having a document management system named after me has no appeal at all. The only time regular people talk about a document management system or any sort of work-related software is to complain about it.

Positive comments come only when the software is replaced. We all realized that we loved GoFileRoom only after we had to deal with the nightmare that the not quite Big 4 firm imposed on us. It was a good thing that they had not named it after one of their deceased partners. I sincerely hope that DAWSON does not tarnish the memory of the late judge, but I am not optimistic.

Other Coverage

Here is the heads up I got from Mr. Taishoff – Up DAWSON’s Creek

But the October 7 press release contains one sentence that froze the electrons in my laptop.

“The Court does not anticipate issuing any orders or opinions during the time e-filing is inaccessible.”

Are y’all serious? Nothing for a month, with thousands of taxpayers and the IRS waiting on resolution of their cases, each of which is important to the parties involved, whether it be $10 or $10 million caught in this logjam up Dawson’s Creek without a paddle or a log Peavy.

I do not even consider mentioning that this shuts me down for a month, or however long it takes to get this latest coruscation up and running.

Bloomberg Tax had something behind its paywall.

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