In Uncategorized on 10/04/2022 at 15:56

I’ve commented many times on the United States Tax Court Admissions Examination, the biennial slaughter of the innocents. Section 7452 contains the famous Dingell Amendment: “No qualified person shall be denied admission to practice before the Tax Court because of his failure to be a member of any profession or calling.”

This democratizing effort had the usual unintended consequence of erecting the “disputed barricade,” thereby restricting “qualified person” to the tiny group who successfully storm the same.

But there’s a good reason for requiring an in-depth knowledge of the FRE and the Tax Court Rules of Practice and Procedure. Even CPAs, knowledgeable as they are, can fall foul.

Here’s Joseph Amundsen, Docket No. 9996-21, filed 10/4/22. That’s Joseph Amundsen, CPA.

Judge Christian N. (“Speedy”) Weiler takes up the story.

“At trial, Mr. Amundsen offered evidence to the Court, including Exhibit 508-P, labelled ‘General Ledger,’ which outlines the debits and credits in Mr. Amundsen’s bank account…. At trial, Exhibit 508-P was admitted into evidence by the Court. At the conclusion of trial, and at the request of the parties, post-trial briefing was ordered by the Court. …Mr. Amundsen submitted his opening brief to the Court, which included a document entitled ‘Joseph Amundsen, CPA, General Ledger’.” Order, at p. 1.

No problem, right? Can always cite to trial evidence in the opening-trial brief.


The attachment has two (count ’em, two) more pages than the trial exhibit, has a different date stamp (four months later than the trial exhibit), and doesn’t show a bunch debits (hi, Judge Holmes) that appeared on the trial exhibit.

Joseph Amundsen, CPA, explains that the “…general ledger attached to the opening brief is formatted differently, printed in easier to read rows and columns so that this case may be resolved.” Order, at p. 2.

See also my blogpost “Please, Mother, I’d Rather Do It Myself,” 7/26/18, anent helpful attempts to recast trial evidence.

Judge Speedy Weiler says the reformatting is merely cumulative evidence and wasn’t made part of the trial record. Statements in briefs are not evidence. And the “General Ledger” is not a proposed finding of fact, as it fails to comply with Rule 151(c)(3), which requires a concise statement of proposed findings, not a repetition of trial evidence.

Joseph Amundsen, CPA, is self-represented. We’ve all seen a lot worse from pro ses. But when every day’s budget of orders includes at least a few admonitions to Form 2848 representatives (including CPAs) that they need to pass the exam, I can see the necessity.

  1. I would agree wholeheartedly, if attorneys who practice before the Tax Court had to pass the same exam. As you know, an attorney admitted in California who graduated from a non-ABA approved school and passed the California Bar can be admitted to practice before the Tax Court, simply because he has a law license, even though he may not know anything about taxation or the Tax Court Rules of Practice and Procedure. Funny enough, I knew a former Tax Court law clerk who with a friend took the Exam one year on a lark: both flunked.

    Love your blog.

    Van Lanier, MBA, Enrolled Agent
    Fellow, National Tax Practice Institute

    NOVA Accounting LLC
    299 Herndon Parkway, Suite 209
    Herndon, VA 20170


  2. Mr Lanier, Thank you. It’s more than ten years since I first commented on this problem (see my blogpost “A Book and a Modest Proposal,” 5/22/12 And nothing has changed. The number of well-credentialed attorneys who come unglued in USTC litigation has not diminished. The number of tax practitioners completely unaware of Tax Court law and practice increases. And Tax Court Judges and STJs with bushelbasketsful of experience and ability are reduced to teaching kindergarten.


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