When the parties to a Tax Court case need to get information to advance their case, they go through a process called "discovery". Discovery is the formal process for a party to request information from the other party.
Types of Discovery...
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) REquests -- This is not technically part of the discovery process, but is the first thing the taxpayer should do to get a copy of the IRS file.
Request for Production of Documents -- This lists documents one party wants from the other party.
Interrogatories -- This is a list of questions from one party that requires written responses from the other party.
Requests for Admission -- This is a list of proposed facts from one party. If the other party does not respond and deny the proposed facts, they are deemed admitted.
As early as possible (ideally even before the taxpayer files a petition with the Tax Court), the taxpayer should request a copy of the IRS examination or collection file. This is done by a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The FOIA request should ask for all of the contents of the IRS administrative file for the years at issue in the Tax Court case. The FOIA request should be mailed to: IRS FOIA Request, Stop 93A, PO Box 621506, Atlanta, GA 30362-3006, or faxed to 877-891-6035. No special form is required.
After a case is set for trial, the parties will meet for an informal exchange of information at the Branerton conference. If more information is required after this conference, the parties may take part in the formal "discovery" process. The several types of "discovery" mentioned above -- Requests for Production of Documents, Interrogatories, and Requests for Admissions -- are subject to strict deadlines. Failure to adhere to these deadlines can have serious consequences, so it is essential to read the discovery requests thoroughly. In particular, failure to respond to Requests for Admission from the IRS causes the proposed facts to be admitted. This can result in the taxpayer essentially losing the case before trial because the admitted facts typically entitle the IRS to win. It is absolutely essential to deny Requests for Admission if the taxpayer wants to challenge the proposed facts at trial.
Generally, all discovery should be mailed 80 days before the trial calendar date and should direct the other party to respond within 30 days.