Tax Court Had Jurisdiction Over Innocent Spouse Case

The Tax Court had jurisdiction to determine the appropriate relief available to an individual who sought innocent spouse relief for two tax years at issue. Initially, the taxpayer submitted a request for innocent spouse relief for one tax year, which the IRS denied in a final determination. Subsequently, the taxpayer filed an untimely petition for Tax Court review which was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Later, the taxpayer submitted a request for innocent spouse relief for an additional tax year at issue (two tax years). The IRS issued a final determination denying relief as to both years on the merits. The Tax Court held it had jurisdiction to hear the case even though the IRS previously denied relief for one year and argued that the year was included in the notice by mistake.

Notice Is Evaluated on its Face
The Tax Court has jurisdiction to review a final determination denying innocent spouse relief. The Tax Court concluded that when evaluating whether a notice serves as the predicate for jurisdiction, it generally does not look beyond the face of the notice unless its text is ambiguous or inconsistent. In this case, the notice unambiguously denied relief for two years. The court also stated that nothing in the law or regulations prohibits the Commissioner from issuing more than one final determination as to a given tax year. Thus, the notice could be a final determination conferring jurisdiction, even though there had been a prior final determination.

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