U.S. Supreme Court VICTORY!
The NFIB Legal Center took its fight for taxpayer fairness to the U.S. Supreme Court when it filed an amicus (friend—of—the—court) brief urging the court to decide whether the U.S. Tax Court's refusal to disclose special trial judge (STJ) reports to litigants violates taxpayers' rights to due process under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The issues under review were of considerable importance to all taxpayers, including small—business owners. Similar to many other tax cases, the underlying case started in the U.S. Tax Court where a Chief Judge appoints a special trial judge (STJ) to conduct the trial. At the conclusion of the trial, the STJ submits a report to the Chief Judge who can then accept, reject or modify the report. However, due to a change of direction by the Tax Court in 1983, the STJ reports are no longer disclosed to the parties, nor are the reports included in the court record.
The inability to review the STJ report severely hampered a taxpayer’s ability to effectively advocate an appeal from the trial court’s decision because they had no way of knowing why the trial court made the decision it did without seeing the STJ report.
Status: DECIDED. Amicus brief filed in support of Ballard 08/02/04. Oral argument held 12/07/04. On 03/07/05, the Supreme Court held the Tax Court’s practice violated the court’s rules.