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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 97990 Find in a Library
Title: Small Case Procedure of the United States Tax Court - A Small Claims Court That Works
Author(s): W C Whitford
Date Published: 1984
Page Count: 55
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Suggestions that the small case procedure of the U.S. Tax Court has been successful in facilitating meaningful pro se litigation by the ordinary citizen in Federal tax disputes involving small amounts were investigated empirically.
Abstract: Data were provided by national statistics on small case and regular Tax Court proceedings; Government records on 1,100 small case disputes; a mail survey of small case litigants; and observations at hearings. Findings indicate that a majority of taxpayers in small case disputes were not represented by an attorney and that less elite social classes were availing themselves of the procedure. Most of the cases raised deduction issues. In observed hearings, both judges and Government counsel showed respect and understanding for the difficulties facing the pro se litigant. On the basis of findings, it is concluded that small case procedure has succeeded in providing a forum in which it is possible to dispute alleged tax deficiencies pro se with reasonable prospects of success. This success appears attributable to the unique dispute posture for the Tax Court petitioner and the extensive resources assigned to the procedure by the Tax Court and Chief Counsel to the Internal Revenue Service. The expenditure of such resources in the Tax Court apparently reflects a need to legitimate the tax system by providing fair disputing procedures. Footnotes and tabular data are provided.
Index Term(s): Court research; Dispute processing; Dispute resolution; Federal tax law enforcement; Pro se defense; Small claims courts
Note: Dispute Processing Research Program - Working Paper.
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