The Tax Court in Brief December 6 – December 10, 2021

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The Tax Court in Brief December 6 – December 10, 2021

Freeman Law’s “The Tax Court in Brief” covers every substantive Tax Court opinion, providing a weekly brief of its decisions in clear, concise prose.

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Tax Litigation: The Week of December 6 – December 10, 2021

Coggin v. Comm’r, 157 T.C. No. 12


Coggin v. Comm’r, 157 T.C. No. 12

December 8, 2021 | Weiler, J. | Dkt. No. 21580-19

Short Summary: Alice J. Coggin (“Coggin”), who was married during the tax years at issue, learned weeks before her husband’s death that her husband untimely filed (and partially paid) joint personal income tax returns for tax years 2001 through 2009. On the advice of counsel, Coggin filed amended personal income tax returns for tax years 2001 through 2009, claiming refunds for tax years 2001 through 2007. The Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) rejected Coggin’s refunds for tax years 2003, 2004, and 2007. Coggin then filed a complaint in U.S. District Court, seeking refunds for tax years 2001 through 2007. The U.S. Government filed a counterclaim, seeking to reduce Coggin’s remaining balances due for years 2002 – 2009 to judgment.

The U.S. District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the U.S. Government and dismissed Coggin’s refund claims. However, the U.S. District Court retained jurisdiction over the Government’s counterclaim. In defense, Coggin sought innocent spouse relief, pursuant to I.R.C. § 6015, for tax years 2001 through 2009 and brought a petition a petition before the U.S. Tax Court. In response, the IRS filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.

Key Issues:

Primary Holdings:

Key Points of Law:

Insight: Coggin underscores the procedural issues related to the Tax Court’s jurisdiction. To the extent a taxpayer initiates a suit for refund in U.S. District Court, that court may retain (and the Tax Court does not subsequently acquire) jurisdiction with respect to a later claim for innocent spouse relief for the same years at issue. However, as the Tax Court notes here, if certain taxes have not been paid (e.g., tax years 2008 and 2009), then the taxpayer is not suing for a refund, and the U.S. District Court does not have jurisdiction for those particular years under I.R.C. § 6015(e)(3)(A)-(B).


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