How to Pass

Prepared by the United States Tax Court
Admissions & Trial Practice Programs
for Non-attorney & Attorney Federally
Authorized Tax Practitioners at the
Tax Law Institute

Get your personal copy of...

The Non-attorney's Guide to Admission
& Litigation Practice in U.S. Tax Court

Professor Emeritus Law
Tax Law Institute

In the first book ever written about non-attorney U.S. Tax Court admissions and trial practice, Professor Michael Stuart illuminates, in plain language, the challenges faced by non-attorney, federally authorized tax practitioners who want to be approved as a "United States Tax Court Practitioner".

Professor Stuart, a veteran U.S. Tax Court observer and lecturer in litigation strategies for U.S. Tax Court trial practice, examines the frustrations among many IRS Enrolled Agents and CPA Federal tax practitioners who are unable to pass the U.S. Tax Court non-attorney examination. After talking to numerous, unsuccessful applicants, Professor Stuart has concluded that there is one reason, and one reason alone that is the cause - inadequate preparation.

Professor Stuart goes on to address the companion problem related to Tax Court bar admissions, and one that seems to affect a greater number of applicants each Testing Cycle - failure to pass muster with the FBI. The most common reason is an applicant's failure to make "full disclosure" on their application to the Court.

In past years, several persons who passed the exam were denied bar admission due to various "undisclosed matters" obscured in their background, but uncovered during the FBI vetting process.

Professor Stuart has been working with IRS enrolled agents, CPAs and attorneys engaged in Federal Tax Practice since 2006. In this book, he explains, straight-forwardly, what is required of these tax accounting professionals if they wish to obtain a minimum 70% passing grade in each of the four sections in the U.S. Tax Court Non-attorney Examination - administered once every other year in Washington DC. This book is a "must read" for anyone who is about to take the non-attorney exam as well as for anyone who has taken the exam and failed to pass. It is also a book for those who have passed but have not yet engage in litigation practice for lack of know-how.

About the Author 

Professor Michael Stuart is Program Director at the Tax Law Institute where he helps to prepare Federally-authorized tax practitioners (FATPs) for bar admission and trial practice in the United States Tax Court.

Operating under the auspices of the U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service Office of Professional Responsibility, he provides IRS approved continuing professional education courses to Federal tax law and tax accounting professionals.

He is a teaching specialist in Federal tax litigation practices. His IRC analyses and legal arguments have been applied successfully at trial and in other proceedings by bar-admitted FATPs in United States Tax Court and United States District Courts throughout the national jurisdiction. Aside from his responsibilities as an educator, he works primarily with a former U.S. Tax Court special trial judge, Federal tax scholars, non-attorney CPA members of the Tax Court bar, tax litigators, IRS special agents and a former U.S. Treasury special agent to provide  advisory and support services to bar-admitted FATPs engaged in IRS appeals practice and U.S. Tax Court litigation practice, fraud defense, and settlement procedures.

From 2015 to 2018, he served as coordinator of the joint educational collaborative between the Tax Law Institute and University of Alabama School of Law Graduate Tax Program. Previously, he volunteered as Federal tax workout liaison between the IRS and the Bankruptcy Unit of the Consumer Division at the Legal Aid Society.

Earlier, he served as a member of a White House domestic policy advisory committee where he was engaged as interim tax policy adviser and position paper writer for the president. He was then appointed visiting scholar (public policy) at Yale Law School.

To follow is an excerpt from the e-book wherein Professor Stuart offers some tips to persons considering applying to the U.S. Tax Court during the 2020 Testing Cycle. The chapter entitled, "Seven-Things You Must Do..." is realistic, sobering, and instructive. In it, Professor Stuart sends a clear message to Tax Court bar applicants that preparation is the key, and that an embarkment upon the road to admission to the U.S. Tax Court Bar is, by far, no easy journey, even for the most seasoned of tax professionals.

The Non-attorney's Guide to Admission
& Litigation Practice in U.S. Tax Court

Professor Emeritus Law
Tax Law Institute

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Published by TLI

Chapter Excerpt

Seven-Things You Must Do to Prepare
for the 2020 U.S. Tax Court
Non-attorney Exam

1.  It absolutely takes no fewer than 12 months to prepare for the U.S. Tax Court Non-attorney Exam, and 5 months thereafter to learn if you are to be "Admitted to Practice, U.S. Tax Court," as United States Tax Court Practitioner.

2.  Prior to the test, you should self-execute an investigation into your own background. It is advisable that you do this before you submit your Application to the Tax Court. If you pass the test then your final hurdle is to pass muster with the FBI. Know before you apply!

3.  You should enroll at the Tax Law Institute where you can hear, every week for 10 weeks, former Special Trial Judge Dean, tax evidence author and Professor Joni Larson, Counsel L.B. Carpenter CPA, and Professor Eugene Smith CPA Ph.D "speak-to-the-test". Specifically, Judge Dean and Professor Larson will discuss how litigation unfolds - a process you must understand, if you wish to pass.

Further, Judge Dean and Professor Larson will describe how Tax Court evidence is presented and finds its way into the record. You will also hear Counsel Carpenter CPA and Professor Smith CPA Ph.D (Bank Secrecy Act and money laundering expert) discuss tax controversies that arise from conflicts in the IRC as the Substantive Tax section of the exam is worth 40%.

Finally, you will hear the entire Teaching Faculty detail the U.S. Tax Court rules, procedures and courtroom practices that you will also be expected to know for the Exam.

4.  You must learn to recognize "question-types" in the Non-attorney Exam. Most importantly, you must learn how to respond quickly and confidently with answers that get full or partial credit. You can only do this if you are properly trained. The TLI program will provide that sort of training. The program is rigorous and thorough, but also lots of fun. It will prepare you to do your best. And it is the only exam prep program that provides a Master Tutor, who works with all applicants, one-to-one.

5.  You must learn on what to focus to pass the Exam. And also, you must have some sense of how much time, expense, and effort you want to invest to get yourself admitted to the Tax Court Bar. Consider that some applicants take the exam several times before they pass. You should enroll in an exam preparation program (such as TLI) that will give you a-better-than-70%-chance to pass, and to qualify to the FBI. Remember, if you pass and are vetted by the FBI, you can set up practice with your bar registration number. But, if you are unsuccessful, at the very least, you should gain insight and pickup valuable professional tools that should help improve your current practice and increase your chances for passing in 2022. And, from a financial point, only TLI allows unsuccessful test-takers to repeat the bar prep course at no additional charge (other than hotel accommodations and meals, where applicable).

6.  You must assure yourself that after you complete the TLI exam preparation program, you will possess the basic skills-set you'll need to pass the exam and launch your tax litigation practice in U.S. Tax Court. That is why it is important to properly prepare for each class by completing the assigned readings beforehand, and by taking fastidious notes. And you must study, study, study, and then study some more. If you are not willing to put in the time, then save your money, because you will not pass. Those who do pass are the ones who show up prepared for class, ask questions, ask for help, and devote 3-4 hours every day to reading and re-reading, and reviewing their notes.

7.  Remember that "Admitted to Practice, U.S. Tax Court," should not be just another qualification to put on your resume." You must learn the Rules and you must learn how to litigate. If you know and understand the Rules and the litigation process, then you will be able to answer correctly most questions in the exam, in which case you'll pass and be admitted (subject to an FBI check). After which you can launch your practice and have the confidence to take on just about any case-type. And, if you ever think you're in over your head, just contact US Tax Court Their Staff will provide low-cost litigation assistance to help you win your case; or at the very least, settle your case to your client's satisfaction. 


TLI will write the two required recommendation letters to the U.S. Tax Court Office of Admissions for any applicant who receives a passing grade in all four (4) sections of the 2020 Non-attorney Examination, subject to the applicant's full disclosure of the findings of the self-requested background check. In that regard, please note that each Testing Cycle, an applicant who passes the exam is denied admission to the Tax Court Bar, often due to their failure to disclose.


If you prepare with us and do not pass the 2020 Non-attorney Exam then you may repeat the Program, at no charge, during the 2022 Testing Cycle; however, you must pay for your own accommodations where applicable.