United States Tax Court
|United States Tax Court|
|Judge term length||15 years|
|This article is part of |
United States of America
The United States Tax Court (in
The main emblem of the tax court represents a
The first incarnation of the Tax Court was the "U.S. Board of Tax Appeals", established by Congress in the
In 1929, the United States Supreme Court indicated that the Board of Tax Appeals was not a "court," but was instead "an executive or administrative board, upon the decision of which the parties are given an opportunity to base a
In 1942, Congress passed the
The Tax Court was again renamed to its current formal designation in the
In 1991, the U.S. Supreme Court in Freytag v. Commissioner stated that the current United States Tax Court is an "Article I legislative court" that "exercises a portion of the judicial power of the United States." The Court explained the Tax Court "exercises judicial power to the exclusion of any other function" and that it "exercises its judicial power in much the same way as the federal district courts exercise theirs...." This "exclusively judicial role distinguishes it from other non-Article III tribunals that perform multiple functions..." Thus, Freytag concluded that the Tax Court exercises "judicial, rather than executive, legislative, or administrative, power." The Tax Court "remains independent of the Executive and Legislative Branches" in the sense that its decisions are not subject to appellate review by Congress, the President, or for that matter, Article III district courts. The President, however, may remove the Tax Court judges, after notice and opportunity for public hearing, for "inefficiency," "neglect of duty," or "malfeasance in office."
Justice Scalia penned a separate concurrence for four justices in Freytag. These justices dissented as to the Court majority's rationale; they would have characterized the Tax Court's power as "executive" rather than "judicial." Scalia said that to him "it seem[ed]... entirely obvious that the Tax Court, like the Internal Revenue Service, the FCC, and the NLRB, exercises executive power." Notwithstanding Scalia's sharp dissents in landmark separation-of-powers cases such as Mistretta v. United States and Morrison v. Olson, Scalia apparently "describe[d] Freytag as the single worst opinion of his incumbency" on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Although the 2008 U.S. government directory of executive and legislative appointed officers ("the Plum Book") categorized the Tax Court as part of the legislative branch, the 2012 revised version removed the Tax Court and listed it under neither the legislative nor the executive branches.
Under an amendment to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 enacted in late 2015, the U.S. Tax Court "is not an agency of, and shall be independent of, the executive branch of the Government." However, section 7443(f) of the Code still provides that a Tax Court judge may be removed by the President "for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office".