Washington, D.C. — The House of Representatives today approved by voice vote a bipartisan bill to protect taxpayers’ rights by allowing judges to transfer taxpayers’ lawsuits against the government to the correct court when they are initially filed in the incorrect court by mistake.

The Protecting Access to the Courts for Taxpayers Act (H.R. 3996) closes a loophole that involves litigation filed by taxpayers who are disputing a Notice of Deficiency or other Internal Revenue Service (IRS) actions that should be brought before the United States Tax Court. Taxpayers sometimes file their cases in the wrong court. Because of a loophole, federal law does not allow a district court judge to transfer such incorrectly filed cases to the United States Tax Court. Instead, district court judges must dismiss the action completely. Oftentimes, this dismissal occurs after the deadline has passed for filing the case in the appropriate tax court, which denies taxpayers their day in court.

Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Subcommittee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chief sponsor of the legislation, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) applauded today’s House passage of the Protecting Access to the Courts for Taxpayers Act in the statements below.

Subcommittee Chairman Issa: “Taxpayers who make a simple clerical mistake in filing their cases shouldn’t lose their ability to have their day in court.  Yet current law gives our judges no ability to move these cases to the correct court, as they can with almost any other matter. Given tax courts’ tight filing deadlines, accidentally filing in the wrong venue can be detrimental to the outcome in their cases. This is a simple update, but one that will go a long way to helping taxpayers better obtain justice.”

Chairman Goodlatte: “The bipartisan Protecting Access to the Courts for Taxpayers Act makes a relatively minor change to the law, but it will have a significant impact in protecting taxpayers’ rights. This commonsense legislation, which is supported by the United States Tax Court and the Judicial Conference, closes a technical loophole and in so doing helps ensure that taxpayers get their day in court.

“I appreciate Subcommittee Chairman Issa and Ranking Member Nadler’s hard work on this legislation, and I encourage the Senate to act quickly in order to get this bill to the President for his signature.”

Ranking Member Nadler: “I am pleased that the House passed this simple, yet important, legislation to preserve access to justice for certain taxpayers who mistakenly file in the wrong court.  By granting federal district courts the authority to transfer cases to the United States Tax Court, this bill would ensure that taxpayers who make an honest mistake will still have their day in court.  I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this legislation, and I look forward to working with Chairman Goodlatte and Chairman Issa to see that it is enacted into law.”