The Internal Revenue Service is reminding taxpayers that the agency isn't kidding around when it comes to frivolous cases aimed at delaying tax collections.

In published cases since the beginning of 2004, the U.S. Tax Court has imposed penalties totaling $117,500 against taxpayers for pursuing frivolous cases, according to IRS data released last week. Penalties in those cases ranged from $1,500 to $25,000 -- the maximum sanction on those who misuse their right to a court review in an effort to stall their tax payments.

That brings the total penalties in such cases since 2001 to $378,900. In addition, the IRS noted that appeals courts in the Second, Ninth and Tenth Circuits upheld six earlier Tax Court decisions assessing penalties totaling $15,600.

While the IRS ordinarily cannot enforce collection while a collection due process appeal is pending, it noted that in an April 2005 decision, the Tax Court, for the first time, allowed the IRS to pursue collection even though an appeal had been filed. In Burke v. Commissioner, 124 T.C No. 11, the court permitted the IRS to proceed with a levy, agreeing that the "taxpayer had used the collection review procedure to espouse frivolous and groundless arguments and otherwise needlessly delay collection."

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