In Uncategorized on 03/04/2021 at 13:18

I understand and agree that the documents in Tax Court cases are special, and deserve special handling. Pleadings, motions, evidence, all may contain Section 6103 taxpayer info, trade secrets, privileged matter. Without staff to redact such matter when petitioners and third-parties fail to do so, the hardlaboring Glasshouse clerks have to hide it all, and let FOIA sort it out. See my blogpost “Snow(den) Job?” 7/18/16.

We’re being promised that searchable orders and opinions issued from and after 5/1/86 will arise from Dawson’s Creek “soon.” Well, it’s been since December 28 last year, and crickets. I searched today for a stipulated decision in a case I blogged back in 2016. The docket entry was there, but the decision itself could not be viewed. Why? The opinion wasn’t sealed.

My blogging colleague Mr. Paul Streckfus and I were talking back in January about the failure to restore the old system, which provided infinitely better search capabilities.

I cut the Genius Baristas slack two months ago, recognizing the need to make the system immediately accessible to self-representeds and counsel to move cases forward. See my blogpost “I Am Third – Part Deux,” 1/26/21. So if I am a grumpy old man, as my colleague Peter Reilly, CPA, would put it, at least I am not claiming that Tax Court is senior hour at Trader Joe’s, and trying to jump the line.

But the time has come. It’s time to make orders and opinions on-line and available. That means listing all of them, not requiring the public to search individually. That means providing links that work to the texts of opinions and orders, so we journos and bloggers can link to the texts in our blogposts, and readers can see for themselves whether we got the story right, then and there, without having to go searching somewhere else.

That means making Section 7461 publicity, and the Taxpayer Bill of Rights Rule One, the right to be informed, realities, and not Pirates of the Caribbean “guidelines…aspirational goals,” on the one hand, and the Taxpayer Bill of Goods on the other.

And maybe we also need to see how DAWSON was conceived, designed, rolled out, who sat at the table during the process, and what it cost us taxpayers. I’ll come back to that.


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