USTCP Defined

Alexander Hamilton
First Treasury Secretary

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The United States Tax Court Practitioner Demystified

"USTCP" is the professional designation for an individual who has been examined and "admitted to practice" as an "United States Tax Court Practitioner" aka USTCP. The USTCP is deemed to be a Member of the Bar of the United States Tax Court, who may act as "Representative" of US taxpayers and foreign citizens to whom a Notice of Determination or Notice of Liability has issued after the IRS determined that the taxpayer underpaid his/her taxes. Specifically, an USTCP is an individual who has:
  • passed the United States Tax Court Non-attorney [Bar Admissions] Examination
  • been approved and "admitted to practice" by the United States Tax Court Office of Admissions
  • who has been investigated and approved as a person in "good standing" by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
The USTCP who has successfully completed the "Litigation of Federal Tax Controversies Lecture Series at Harvard," administered by the Tax Law Institute's US Trial Practice Program, is so designated, "Certified US Tax Court LItigator®." Such certification asserts the preparedness and litigation skills set of an United States Tax Court Practitioner to competently take a case to trial and achieve the best possible outcomes for the petitioner-taxpayer-client. State-licensed Attorneys engaged in Tax Practice may also seek such designation.

All federally authorized tax practitioners who are "Admitted to Practice, U.S. Tax Court" are not automatically designated, "Certified US Tax Court Litigator®." The USTCP can earn such designation only after he/she successfully completes the "Litigation of Federal Civil Tax Controversies at Harvard©," administered by the Tax Law Institute's US Tax Court Trial Practice Program, and after one year of successful practice before the Court.

  • Where should one go to best prepare for the 2020 Non-attorney Examination?
    • There are several good programs available to tax professionals. All should prepare an applicant to pass the Non-attorney Examination. But yet, every Testing Cycle, news of the few who pass overshadow the woes of the  dozens who fail. The Tax Law Institute exam prep is led by a Distinguished US Tax Court Judge. Given that a sitting US Tax Court judge (appointed by the Chief Judge of the Court) actually oversees the writing of exam questions prepared each Testing Cycle by a three-person panel composed of law professors. Who then is better able to instruct applicants on how best to answer TC exam questions than another US Tax Court judge?

  • How does someone get to be certified as an USTCP?
    • Traditionally, individuals who hold the United States Tax Court Practitioner designation also hold one of the following designations:
      • Enrolled Agent
      • CPA
      • PA
      • MT
      • Tax Preparer
      • LLM
      • JD
      • Anyone who deems him/herself qualified to sit for the examination, and is so approved by the Office of Admissions of the US Tax Court, may apply.
    • Either of these individuals cited above are presumed to possess sufficient training and education that would qualify them to sit for the US Tax Court Non-attorney Exam.
    • Most of the individuals cited above usually enroll in any one of numerous IRS-approved, and unapproved, bar exam preparation programs in order to better-prepare themselves to pass the US Tax Court Non-attorney Exam, administered once every other year by the US Tax Court in Washington DC.

  • How long does it take to become an USTCP?
    • With proper preparation, it will take a applicant up to two years to become an USTCP. Usually 14-16 months is required to study the exam materials. And then their is a 5-month waiting period for the Exam results to be reported to the Court and notices sent out.

  • What can USTCP's do?
    • United States Tax Court Practitioners are specifically authorized to represent taxpayers before the United States Tax Court at all administrative and legal levels. After trial, only attorneys are authorized to take appeals to the US Court of Appeals.

  • What can USTCPs not do?
    • USTCPs may not take a case to or argue a case before the US Court of Appeals,
    • USTCPs may not provide legal advice beyond the lawful subject matter in which they've received training and certification from the Office of Admissions, US Tax Court.
    • USTCPs may not exercise their practice before any other Federal, State. or local civil legal tribunal.
    • USTCPs may not ever give "legal advice" or provide counsel in any realm beyond federal tax matters.
    • USTCPs may not ever  use the terms, "lawyer," "counselor," or "attorney" to designate themselves.

  • Can someone make a living as an USTCP?
    • USTCPs can earn $40,00 - $60,00 annually while engage in shared practice as a CPA or EA.
    • USTCPs can earn $60,000 - $120,000 annually while engaged in a full-time practice before the US. Tax Court.
    • USTCPs who hold combined CPA and USTCP credentials and are engaged in a full-time practice before the US Tax Court may earn up to $250,000 annually (or more), depending on the locality and specialty of their practice.

  • Can someone make a better living if they were a CPA-USTCP
    • Absolutely! In fact, CPA-USTCPs are in high demand and most likely will continue to be in the coming years. Law and Accounting firms are increasingly recognizing their worth and hire them as full-time tax professionals
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  • What would a small business owner use an CPA-USTCP for?
    • The CPA-USTCP can prepare your business taxes and represent you before the IRS if you are audited; you can also use a CPA-USTCP for accounting tasks.
    • The CPA-USTCP can represent the small business owner before the US Tax Court in the event a tax controversy arises for which the small business owner decides to challenge the determination of the IRS.

  • How much does a CPA-USTCP charge?
    • Like any professional, as much as they can get by with. However the Tax Law Institute research, gathered from among those individuals it has trained and graduated, tell us that the industry standard recently established by CPA-USTCPs is approximately $175 - $250 per hour for regular monthly accounting and petitioner-taxpayer client representation.

  • How much can a CPA-USTCP charge if he/she is also designated "Certified US Tax Court Litigator®?"
    • A peson admitted to practice as  United States Tax Court Practitioner and who is also so designated, Certified US Tax Court Litigator® by the Tax Law Institute's US Tax Court Trial Practice Program may earn up to $350 - $450 an hour, with increased billable hours via advisories and consultations with CPAs (non-USTCP) and State-licensed attorneys with a Tax Practice, or with a general practice carrying an individual tax case.

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"If you enroll in any program and do not pass the Non-attorney Exam then you may retake the program, free-of-charge, during the next Testing Cycle."

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