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Federal Tax Research

Tax and Accounting



IRS Acquiescences to Expanded Review by Tax Court in Innocent Spouse Cases.
(Parker's Federal Tax Bulletin: July 26, 2013)

The IRS will no longer argue that the Tax Court should limit its review of Code Sec. 6015(f) cases to the administrative record. AOD-2012-07 (6/17/13).

Under Code Sec. 6015(e)(1)(A), an individual may petition the Tax Court to determine the appropriate innocent spouse relief available. In Wilson v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo. 2010-134, the Tax Court relied on its prior interpretation of Code Sec. 6015(e)(1) in Porter v. Comm'r, 130 T.C. 115 (2008), and Porter v. Comm'r, 132 T.C. 203 (2009), and applied both a de novo standard and a de novo scope of review to grant the taxpayer relief. The de novo scope of review allowed the taxpayer to introduce evidence outside the administrative record, and the de novo standard of review allowed the court to determine whether the taxpayer was entitled to relief without regard to the IRS's determination. The IRS appealed.

Affirming the Tax Court, the Ninth Circuit in Wilson v. Comm'r, 2013 PTC 5 (9th Cir. 2013), held that the word determine, as used in Code Sec. 6015(e)(1)(A), provides both a de novo standard and a de novo scope of review in Code Sec. 6015(f) cases. The Ninth Circuit interpreted Code Sec. 6015(e)(1) in conjunction with the mandate under Code Sec. 6015(f) to consider the totality of the circumstances before making an equitable relief determination, which the court noted would be impossible if the Tax Court limited its review to the administrative record. The majority of the Ninth Circuit rejected the IRS's argument that the phrase the Secretary may relieve in Code Sec. 6015(f) means that the Tax Court should review the IRS's Code Sec. 6015(f) determinations for an abuse of discretion, limiting its review to evidence in the administrative record.

In June 2013, the IRS released AOD 2012-07. In AOD 2012-07, the IRS stated that, while it disagreed with the Ninth Circuit's decision in the Wilson case, it would no longer argue that the Tax Court should limit its review of Code Sec. 6015(f) cases to the administrative record.

For a discussion of innocent spouse relief, see Parker Tax ¶260,560.

Parker Tax Publishing Staff Writers


Disclaimer: This publication does not, and is not intended to, provide legal, tax or accounting advice, and readers should consult their tax advisors concerning the application of tax laws to their particular situations. This analysis is not tax advice and is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for purposes of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer. The information contained herein is general in nature and based on authorities that are subject to change. Parker Tax Publishing guarantees neither the accuracy nor completeness of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for results obtained by others as a result of reliance upon such information. Parker Tax Publishing assumes no obligation to inform the reader of any changes in tax laws or other factors that could affect information contained herein.

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