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Armie Hammer_Felicity Jones_On the Basis of Sex movie_Focus Features
Armie Hammer and Felicity Jones as Martin and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the movie "On the Basis of Sex." (Photo courtesy Focus Features)

The U.S. Tax Court has gotten some unexpected attention of late for two very different reasons.

The fun reason is the movie "On the Basis of Sex."

The film is based on a real-life gender discrimination case involving caregiver tax deductions claimed by a man. He is represented by a young and future Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her tax litigator husband Martin Ginsburg.

The Ginsburgs won the Tax Court case and the rest is movie and tax law history. Their victory overturned 178 different laws that discriminated on the basis of sex and were found unconstitutional.

And Peter J. Reilly, CPA who loves dissecting tax trials more than any other person I know in person or via social media, says "On the Basis of Sex" goes from good to great because it is a legal drama about an appeal of a Tax Court decision.

Despite Reilly's rave review, though, the movie didn't get any of the Academy Award nominations announced this morning. However, another cinematic look at Justice Ginsburg, "RBG," was tapped for a possible Oscar as the year's Best Documentary Feature.

Tax Court closed: Now for the not fun Tax Court stuff now making news.

The tax wheels of justice have, for the most, part been halted by the partial federal government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history.

A check of the Tax Court website has all the glum legal news.

"The United States Tax Court shut down Friday, December 28, 2018, at 11:9 p.m. and will remain closed until further notice."

Tax Court website home page during shutdown

Trial sessions canceled: he court announced on Jan. 15 that 13 trial sessions scheduled for the weeks of Jan. 28 and Feb. 4 were canceled. As the shutdown dragged on, the court also canceled its Feb. 11 sessions.

A decision regarding the Feb. 25 trial sessions will be made on or before Feb. 7, according to the website.

"When the government starts up again, then the court will have to look at whether or not we try and inject some additional calendars into our normal programming, or whether we will have to let nature take its course and delay the cases that weren’t tried in January and February to the next set of calendars, which could be, for some cities, as far away as another year," Judge L. Paige Marvel told a recent gathering of the Court Procedure and Practice session of the American Bar Association Section of Taxation meeting in New Orleans that was covered by Tax Notes.

Litigants still need to meet deadlines: Marvel told the ABA attendees that despite the Tax Court's closure, taxpayers and practitioners filing with the Tax Court should take care to observe rules on mailing and to preserve proof of mailing.

Timeliness of court mailings are determined by the postmark or the delivery certificate of a designated private delivery service. If a sent document is returned, the party should re-mail it to the court with a copy of the envelope in which it was first sent, according to instructions on the Tax Court website.

Also, eFiling and eAccess will be available for taxpayers to submit Tax Court material during the shutdown.

As for when things will get back to normal, I'll just echo the Tax Court's suggestion: Please monitor this website for further information regarding the Court's operating status.

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