Friday, May 25, 2007

SCOTUS holds that Tax Court provides the exclusive forum for challenges to IRS decisions on abatement of interest

The Internal Revenue Code provides that if any amount of assessed federal income tax is not paid “on or before the last date prescribed for payment,” interest “shall be paid for the period from such last date to the date paid.” 26 U. S. C. §6601(a). Section 6404 of the Code authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to abate any tax or related liability in certain circumstances. In 1996, Congress added what is now §6404(h), which states that the Tax Court has “jurisdiction over any action brought by a taxpayer . . . to determine whether the Secretary’s failure to abate . . . was an abuse of discretion."

In Hinck v. United States, SCOTUS rejected a claim that challenges on the abatement can be brought outside the Tax Court. According to the court, " In a single sentence, [the statute] provides a forum for adjudication, a limited class of potential plaintiffs, a statute of limitations, a standard of review, and authorization for judicial relief." The statute is clear that the Tax Court is the only forum where a taxpayer can challenge refusals to abate.

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