“Live and online” was the headline when the Supreme Court of the United States took oral arguments virtual in May, 2020. The highest court in the country made the move to respect social distancing during the current coronavirus pandemic. Due to technological advances, the justices were able to move forward with at least some court proceedings while still working to ensure the safety of all involved and reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
If the Supreme Court can operate in this manner, so can the Tax Court. Although the technology is present to make this transition successful, the logistics may provide some hurdles. The following will delve into what the transition will likely entail and how Tax Court may proceed through 2020.
Step 1: Transition to online
Representatives have stated that they are aiming to come up with a plan that allows for taxpayers to have their cases heard and receive an “effective and fair resolution.” The Tax Court has announced it will use Zoomgov, a version of the popular meeting app that is approved for government use, for video proceedings.
The Tax Court has also stated it will require taxpayers to file petitions and various documents earlier than the timeline previously used when having in person meetings.
Step 2: Execute the transition
The government has chosen to cancel Tax Court trial sessions through June 30, 2020 and generally does not hear cases through the summer. As a result, we may not see the full execution of this transition until September 1, 2020. However, at that time the Tax Court will likely begin moving forward with cases.
Step 3: Adjust as needed
Although the proposals may work for smaller cases, hurdles may exist for the larger ones. Those with many witnesses and expert testimony may require some flexibility. The court may need to adjust how it handles these proceedings. We will provide updates as such adjustments are proposed.