A recent case from the Tax Court concerned a taxpayer in Texas who filed a tax return attempting to claim her two nieces as her qualifying child dependents.
The IRS disagreed with her claim and denied her the tax benefits she had claimed on her return (dependent exemption, child tax credit, Head of Household filing status, and Earned Income Tax Credit.)
But the IRS doesn't get the last word. A taxpayer who disagrees with an IRS ruling has the right to bring the case before tax court. The taxpayer has the option of hiring an attorney, but is not required to do so.
In this particular case, the taxpayer chose not to hire an attorney, but rather to represent herself ("pro se" is the legal term.)
Read the facts of the case on the first three pages of the judge's opinion, and decide if you agree with the taxpayer (referred to as the "Petitioner" in the judge's opinion) or with the IRS (referred to as the "Respondent" in the judge's opinion) before you read any further into the opinion.
It's a great way to try out your newly developing understanding of how to apply tax law. You may want have Tab C handy in your Pub 4012 Volunteer Resource Guide as you try to reason through to decide whether the taxpayer is right or the IRS is right.
Then read the judge's description of his reasoning about the case to see how he applied the law. Did your interpretation agree with his?
The Tax Court case is here at this link. After you read it, click on "comments" below to take a look at my comments on the case.