The Tax Court generates about $250 million annually in revenue for the Treasury, but it hasn't heard a case since April 1 because it is running short of money. The court has a 48,000-case backlog and it now takes about 18 months for a taxpayer to get a decision, according to some estimates. Further, the length of the wait is increasing daily, and, if the taxpayer loses, he gets to pay 20 percent interest on the amount that is overdue.
The court, with 258 employes including its 17 judges (there are two vacancies), is one of several agencies that got what amounted to a 16 percent budget cut after Congress finished with the continuing resolution last December. A $1.5 million supplemental appropriation, one item in the so-called "urgent" fiscal 1982 supplemental bill now in the Senate, has been in the congressional pipeline for months. Like everything in the supplemental, that item is in danger of getting washed away in the political tide surrounding such unrelated issues as housing subsidies and tax breaks for congressmen.
So the court continues rescheduling cases, but so far no employes have been furloughed. There is one plus: since the judges are not on the road (the court travels from Washington to about 100 locations around the country) they are busy catching up on opinion writing for cases they have already heard.