Attorney-at-Law

THE SELF-REPRESENTED – PART DEUX

In Uncategorized on 06/30/2021 at 21:05

Please believe me when I say I’m not piling on to Monique D. Long, 2021 T. C. Memo. 81, filed 6/30/21. I’m arguing once again for the establishment of an Office for the Self-Represented in US Tax Court, and her case provides a good example of the need therefor. See my blogpost “The Self-Represented,” 5/30/17.

I know the LITCs and the calendar call commandos are providing yeoman service with stringently limited resources, but the evidence shows that upwards of 90% of the self-representeds who seek solutions in The Glasshouse on Second Street, NW, haven’t the foggiest. As I said four years ago, the calendar call commandos are in the position of emergency room trauma surgeons assigned to rehabilitative medicine; this assumes the patients have a chance of survival by the time they get finally get there.

And they only find out the rules of the process too late.

Monique had two separate SNODs, six months apart. Both sent certified mail, neither collected, although addressed to the same address shown on the returns at issue, the papers submitted to Appeals in response to the NFTL Monique got after she didn’t petition the SNODs, and her petition and subsequent correspondence. Monique claims her used her grandmother’s address, and sometimes didn’t get her mail there. IRS claims Monique ducked, but as IRS wants summary J, Judge Albert G (“Scholar Al”) Lauber is willing to give Monique the benefit of the doubt.

Except that when he does so, Monique has already been to Appeals.

“In her CDP hearing request petitioner stated that she did not know why she had outstanding tax liabilities, and she repeated that question at the start of the conference call. But after the SO explained the background and summarized the notices of deficiency, petitioner withdrew any challenge to her underlying liabilities. Indeed, she stated that she intended to pay those liabilities in full and asked for an extension of time to do so. At no time did petitioner submit any evidence to the SO regarding her entitlement to a dependency exemption (or any other issue relevant to her…tax liability).”2021 T. C. Memo. 81, at p. 10. (Citations omitted).

It would be cheap to ask rhetorically what Monique expected Judge Scholar Al to do to help her with this record. But my point is that whatever she expected, it wasn’t going to happen. And I strongly suspect she had no way of knowing that.

I submit that the overwhelming majority of self-represented Tax Court cases are lost long before the petition is filed. In proof thereof, look at how many cases are dismissed for want of prosecution. Today there were issued no fewer than three hundred sixty nine (count ’em, three hundred sixty nine) Standing Pretrial Orders. How many of these will actually go to trial?

A simple explanation that all IRS correspondence gets top priority, that SNODs are serious, and that usually when you get a NFTL or NITL the real trial will take place at Appeals so get your papers together and show up, would help. And someone to tell these self-representeds so.

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