DAWSON Almost Here

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We are now less than a week away from the beginning of the transition at the Tax Court to DAWSON and this deserves another reminder for those who practice in the Tax Court because of the shutdown of the Court’s electronic filing system.

If you are a Tax Court practitioner who has given the Court your current email address, you may have received an email on Friday the 13th directly alerting you to the upcoming shift to DAWSON.


The email does a good job of explaining what is to happen.  Here’s what I received:

You are receiving this email because you are a member of the bar of the United States Tax Court. This is an official notice from the Court to inform you about our transition to a new Case Management System that begins soon. If you feel you received this message in error, please contact our Admissions Section, at admissions@ustaxcourt.gov.

In December 2020, the United States Tax Court will be launching DAWSON (Docket Access Within a Secure Online Network), the Court’s new case management system. The Court expects DAWSON to be active no later than December 28, 2020.

Beginning at 5:00 PM Eastern Time on November 20, 2020, the current e-filing system will become inaccessible and all electronic files will become read-only. See the October 7, 2020 Press Release for more information.

In early December, a new user name and temporary password for DAWSON will be emailed to this address, along with a link to activate your DAWSON account. You must promptly activate your account. The temporary credentials will expire after 7 days, and if you do not activate your account, you will not have access to your electronic case records.

For more information and updates, including FAQs, please continue to monitor the Court’s website, www.ustaxcourt.gov.

If you are a Tax Court practitioner and did not receive this email, you might want to contact the Admissions Section to make sure that your information at the Tax Court is accurate.  If it is not accurate you will not receive the link to activate DAWSON that the Court will send out next month and that will make it difficult for you to operate in the new environment.

If you want to learn more about DAWSON, you can read the Court’s description here where it announces the coming of DAWSON.  You can also read more about it in my earlier post here.

The FAQs referred to in the email from the Court were recently updated.  There are many FAQs but I want to highlight a few focusing on what is going to happen on November 20:

What happens November 20, 2020?
  • Beginning at 5:00 PM Eastern Time on November 20, 2020, the eAccess system will become “read only”. See this Press Release.
  • Records in the eAccess system—including opinions and orders—will remain visible to parties and the public but no new electronic case filings will be permitted.

I think it’s important to note that you will be able to see documents in the system even though you will not be able to electronically file documents.  This leads to the next important question answered by the FAQs regarding what do you do if you need to file a document during the period of the DAWSON installation:

What if I need to file something after November 20, 2020 and before DAWSON is active?

If you must file something with the Court after 5:00 PM Eastern Time on November 20, 2020 and before DAWSON “goes live” in December, you can do so by mailing your document to the United States Tax Court, 400 2nd Street NW, Washington DC 20217. See this Press Release.

For those of us old enough to have practiced at the Court before the Court adopted the current electronic filing system, things have returned to our youth or maybe our middle age.  It will be more expensive to file documents because of postage.  You may want to spend the extra nickels and send things via certified mail.  Of course, you should already be doing that for the petitions you mail to the Court.  It is also possible under IRC 7502 to send mail to the Court using an authorized private delivery service, but please make sure you use an authorized service as problems, like the situation in Guralnik, can occur when using an unauthorized service and problems in general can occur when mailing without some type of receipt. 

Since many of us have not paper filed in some time, also remember that pursuant to Rule 23(b) you should send the original and one copy of the document you are filing. 

Note that the Court hopes to not issue orders and opinions during the period of Dawson installation.

Will the Court still issue opinions and orders during the time E-Filing is inaccessible?

The Court does not currently anticipate issuing any orders or opinions from 5:00 PM Eastern Time on November 20, 2020, until DAWSON goes live. If circumstances necessitate issuing an opinion or order, the Court will do so.

This might limit the material available on certain blog sites that regularly cover the Tax Court.  So, look for lots of material on refund and bankruptcy cases at this blog site over the next month with an occasional TIGTA or GAO report thrown in for good measure.


  1. Michael Weitzner says

    In what world does it make sense for each of the federal courts to develop and implement their own database system. The district courts had a system that was separate from the appellate courts. That may have been alleviated with new Pacer. But why wasn’t the Tax Court on Pacer? Why isn’t it on Pacer now?

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