THE BRANERTON CONFERENCE
IRS Special Enrolled Agent
PRE-TRIAL TAX LITIGATION SPECIALIST
Member of the Support Staff
at the Tax Law Institute
State of Hawaii Certified Tax Strategist
State of Hawaii Certified Tax Coach
State of Hawaii Certified Master Tutor
"The most important interaction the U.S. Tax Court Practitioner will have during litigation will occur at the Branerton Conference. The meeting signals the start of informal discovery and may commence at any time after the joinder of issue. It will set the tone for how the litigation process will unfold."
Hi, my name is Janean and I am one of the Pre-Trial Tax Litigation Specialist for the Tax Law Institute Nonattorney Admissions and U.S. Tax Court Trial Practice Programs. I am also a Master Tutor and as such, I will be assisting you during your transition from lay tax practitioner to tax litigator.
After you file your Petition and your case is docketed by the Clerk of the Court, you will be in the pleading phase of your Tax Court litigation. At that point, everything that you learned with me while enrolled in the non-attorney preparation program will be put to the test.
At any time after the pleadings close (joinder of issue), you will find yourself engaged in informal discovery with the Commissioner's attorney aka the District Counsel of the IRS. These proceedings are otherwise known simply as "Branerton" and are initiated with the transmission of the "Branerton Letter". Either side may send the letter but we believe that you should be the one to write it and initiate the conference.
No, you're not a lawyer; you're a TLI-trained, United States Tax Court Practitioner. And that means that you are a Tax Litigator who actually know just as much about taxes and litigation as does your opponent - the District Counsel's attorney (and in some cases, perhaps you might know more).
Now, do not get nervous! You really do know what you're doing! After all, you completed the best Federal tax litigation-training and legal writing programs offered through the IRS Provider Program. What that means is that you can match wits with the District Counsel's attorney, and perhaps, to some extent, maybe even out-smart him/her.
Remember, you are not only an experienced tax accountant (FATP), you are also a well-trained Tax Court litigator, in the truest sense of the term. At the Tax Law Institute you worked closely with a former Special Trial Judge, tax litigators and tax evidence and procedure scholars. Those encounters happened over the course of a year or more, during which time you gained insight into how Tax Court judges legally reason. You also learned that the standard of the Court is "preponderance of the evidence".
So, when you sit down for your first Branerton Conference what should be at the forefront of your mind is: "How do I ferret-out the factual information to develop the best evidence that a judge will admit in to the record?" And, "How do I accomplish this when confronted with an opponent whose job it is to collect as much of the IRS determined tax and who has access to government resources?"
Branerton is all about finding ways to show the Government representative that you know that your client's case is strong, and that it might be in the Government's best interest to concede (stipulate to) as many elements in your petition rather than run the risk of losing at trial. Sound familiar? Of course it does, because that's exactly what you may have done during the the IRS appeals process, before the petition was filed. And when after filing the petition your case gets sent back to IRS Appeals for resolution, you'll go back to IRS Appeals and do it all over again. But this time you will renegotiate (docketed appeal) under added pressure put upon Appeals' counsel to make a second effort to resolve the tax controversy rather than continue litigating.
In our nonattorney programs - bar preparation, testing, litigation training - you will work so closely with me such that when you go in to your first Branerton Conference, you'll imagine that I am right there with you - reminding and coaching you that you're just as skilled as your opponent, and probably better prepared too. Just remember through it all that you are a Tax Law Institute-trained USTCP, so you not only know tax accounting, you also know and understand how to litigate. In other words, "you got skills".
If you prepare with us and do not pass the 2020 Nonattorney Exam then you may repeat the Program, at no charge, during the 2022 Testing Cycle.
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