IPT Policy and Procedures Regarding Requests for Amicus Briefs
See also: Amicus Filings.
In addition to its educational mission, the Institute for Professionals in Taxation® is dedicated to the promotion and preservation of fair and non-discriminatory taxation by state and local governments. Toward that end, IPT occasionally files amicus briefs with the United States Supreme Court or state supreme courts (i.e., the state appellate court of last resort). As indicated by the rules of the U.S. Supreme Court, the purpose of an amicus brief is to “bring to the attention of the Court relevant matter not already brought to its attention by the parties.”
Requests for amicus briefs by IPT require the approval of IPT’s General Counsel and State Tax Counsel, its Legal Committee and its Board of Governors. Requests should be directed, preferably in writing, to Billy D. Cook, Executive Director, Institute for Professionals in Taxation®, 600 Northpark Town Center, 1200 Abernathy Road, Suite L-2, Atlanta, Georgia, 30328-1040. The request should identify the party on whose behalf the amicus brief is requested, specify the deadline for the amicus brief, and be accompanied by copies of the following:
- The final decision with respect to which review by the U.S. Supreme Court or state supreme court is sought.
- All lower court decisions.
- All briefs filed by the parties in lower court proceedings (including memoranda of law submitted in connection with the final judgment of the trial court).
- If and to the extent needed for meaningful review of the request and preparation of an amicus, excerpts from the record on appeal.
- The request should also indicate how the issue or issues under consideration would be of interest to IPT’s membership at large (or to those members of one of the three tax disciplines–property, sales and income taxation). It should also identify any taxpayers, taxpayer associations, or industries that do or could reasonably be expected to oppose the position taken by the party requesting that IPT file an amicus brief. If permitted by the applicable rules of court, the request should also indicate whether the requesting party proposes to bear any of the direct costs IPT might incur in engaging outside counsel and in printing and securing copies of the amicus brief.
In deciding whether to accept a request to file an amicus brief, IPT considers the following matters:
- Does the case present a significant issue and one of broad import within IPT’s membership? IPT will ordinarily not act favorably on a request in a matter of interest to a single industry.
- Would there be a strong consensus among IPT’s membership for the taxpayer’s position, or would the issue divide the membership? IPT is obliged to serve its members equally and cannot take positions which pit some of its members’ interests against those of other members.
- Is the issue clearly framed as a matter of law? IPT will not appear as a friend of the court where there are disputes over material, underlying facts.
- Is the request for a brief to the United States Supreme Court or a state appeals court of last resort? IPT does not entertain requests for briefs in cases that are still making their way through the lower courts.
- Is there an opportunity for an IPT amicus brief to make some meaningful contribution to the court’s deliberation of the case? The courts do not need or want briefs that simply parrot arguments presented by the parties. IPT’s policies reflect considerable restraint, in the belief that filing friend of the court briefs too often would dilute any impact IPT’s participation might otherwise have.
- As a corollary of criterion 4 above, what other organizations are filing, or expected to file, amicus briefs in the case? While the submission of an amicus brief by another entity would not foreclose IPT from accepting an invitation to prepare one of its own, that fact would be a consideration–IPT might consider its members’ interests adequately served by the involvement of another group with a similar stake in the case. On the other hand, IPT might consider its participation necessary as a way of sending notice of the importance of the issue under review.
- Has the request been made sufficiently in advance for IPT to arrange for a well-conceived and executed brief? Last minute requests cannot be accommodated.
- Review of state tax disputes by the United States Supreme Court is extraordinarily rare, and review by state supreme courts may be discretionary, so that the chance of securing review is often remote. IPT will ordinarily decide whether to accept an amicus request not based on the probability that the case will be heard but on its view of the taxpayer’s position and arguments on the merits of the case, and the likelihood that the taxpayer’s position will prevail in the event that case is accepted.