The Supreme Court has ruled that only the U.S. Tax Court can review refusals by the Internal Revenue Service to reduce interest payments on people who underpay their taxes.

The Supreme Court handed down the unanimous decision this week, after a Walnut Creek, Calif.-based couple, John and Pamela Hinck, sued in federal claims court over $18,000 in interest on additional taxes they were assessed. The couple said that delays in processing their cases only piled on to the amount they owed.

According to the Associated Press, Chief Justice John Roberts said that federal law specifies that the Tax Court provides the exclusive jurisdiction for such cases.

The claims court said that it did not have jurisdiction to take up the Hincks' suit, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit agreed that only the U.S. Tax Court had jurisdiction.

A 1996 provision in the Tax Code allows the IRS to reduce interest attributable for any “unreasonable error,” or other delay by the agency.

The full opinion, authored by Roberts, is available at http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/06-376.ZS.html.


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