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Tax Court Closes DC Building Over COVID-19

By Theresa Schliep · March 19, 2020, 3:51 PM EDT

The U.S. Tax Court has closed its Washington, D.C., building and will not accept hand-delivered petitions, its latest measure to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic after canceling trial sessions and prohibiting visitors from accessing the building. 

The court building is closed effective immediately and until further notice, according to an announcement from the Tax Court on Wednesday. While people can still file petitions and other documents with the court to abide by statutory deadlines, mail sent to the building will be held until the court reopens, it said.

The timeliness of petitions, notices and other filings will be based on the U.S. postage or other designated private delivery certificate affixed to the correspondence, according to the announcement.

The Tax Court's eAccess and eFiling systems, used by attorneys and court petitioners to view documents in their cases and electronically file documents, are still available for use, the court said. 

It’s the court’s latest move in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It recently closed its buildings to visitors, and canceled trial sessions throughout the country that were scheduled for March and April, including those in cities hit hard by the virus like New York City and Seattle. It cited public health concerns and travel advisories, and noted that Tax Court sessions typically involve large numbers of people, including attorneys, litigants and court staffers. 

The court initially sought to limit exposure to the new coronavirus by allowing people with cold or flulike symptoms to reschedule trials, hearings and other court appearances, and had continued its practice of accepting hand-delivered petitions. 

The U.S. Supreme Court has also put off arguments that were scheduled for the end of March and the beginning of April because of the pandemic, including a dispute over a congressional subpoena for President Donald Trump’s financial records, while the American Bar Association’s Taxation Section canceled its May Tax Meeting, according to announcements. The ABA had likewise canceled a meeting of the tax section scheduled to take place from April 1 through April 3 in Munich. 

--Additional reporting by David van den Berg and Alex M. Parker. Editing by Vincent Sherry.

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