Washington, D.C. — The House Judiciary Committee 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), introduced by Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Subcommittee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), 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.

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

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 commend Subcommittee Chairman Issa and Ranking Member Nadler for their work on this legislation and look forward to a vote by the full House soon.”

Subcommittee Chairman Issa: “It’s inexplicable that such a gap would be left open, leaving judges with no way to transfer cases to the appropriate court of jurisdiction like judges have authority to do in almost every other type of case. Given tax court’s strict filing deadlines, which often are as short as 30 days, inadvertently filing in the wrong court can be detrimental to those seeking remedy since its virtually impossible for the error to be discovered in time a taxpayer to refile in the correct venue. This is a small, but nevertheless important update that will patch this hole in our legal system and better enable Americans to achieve justice.”

Ranking Member Nadler: “I am pleased to be an original cosponsor of this legislation, which would protect taxpayers, ensuring that they have their day in court. The court system is complicated, and it can be difficult to navigate.  A loophole in the law prevents some taxpayers from having their claims heard in Tax Court if they mistakenly file their case in federal district court instead.  Our legislation would close this loophole, and it would preserve access to justice for these taxpayers.  I look forward to working with Chairman Goodlatte and Chairman Issa to advance this important legislation.”