Attorney-at-Law

THAT UNEASY FEELING

In Uncategorized on 04/26/2019 at 17:37

Judge David Gustafson’s obliging nature has furnished me with much blogfodder, but today he designates an order dismissing the feelings of being alone, fearful and defeated at the thought of having to appear before him, of Paul L. Bennett & Daryl A. Bennett, Docket No. 9655-18S, fled 4/26/19.

I appreciate the Bennetts’ trepidation, and so does Judge Gustafson.

“We understand that the self-represented petitioner who is not a lawyer may feel uneasy about appearing in court. This is why Congress made provision in section 7463 for special rules to be promulgated for so-called ‘small tax cases’ (see Tax Court Rules 170-174). Such cases are ‘conducted as informally as possible’. Rule 174(b). The Bennetts elected ‘small tax case’ procedures, and we were ready to operate in accordance with them… but the Bennetts did not appear.” Order, at p. 3.

Nevertheless, the Bennetts were warned about five (count ‘em, five) months before trial of trial date, and given a reminder five (ditto) weeks before, to offer whatever evidence, documentary, testimonial or both, that supported their claim that the unreported income, which formed the basis of the SNOD at issue, was in fact greater, but offset by deductions to create a loss.

They didn’t show for the trial.

Unhappily for the lonely and fearful, “…the filing of a petition essentially halts the IRS’s collection activity in order to let the Tax Court trial occur. But if the taxpayer fails to appear for that trial, it would make little sense to empower her thereby to squelch the IRS indefinitely–and she does not have that power.” Order, at p. 3.

And to make it even clearer, “(N)on-appearance at trial is the quintessential ‘failure . . . to prosecute’ a case. The reason for the Bennett’s non-appearance was not sickness or accident or ignorance but rather how the Bennetts ‘felt’. This was not a valid excuse for their failure to appear.” Order, at p. 3.

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