David Bruce Billings - Page 17

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          statute, but led us to view it (especially in light of its                  
          legislative history) merely as a new timing requirement aimed at            
          limiting speculative claims for innocent spouse relief.  Cf.                
          Lamie v. United States Trustee, 540 U.S. 526, 534 (2004)                    
          (cautioning against comparisons between amended statutes and                
          their predecessors to find ambiguity).                                      
               After the opinions in Ewing I and Bartman, however, this               
          reading becomes problematic, particularly when we consider that             
          “deficiency” itself has a defined meaning--the amount by which              
          the tax imposed by the Internal Revenue Code exceeds the amount             
          reported on a return, including an amended return.  We now hold,            
          consistently with those opinions, that the phrase establishes a             
          condition precedent:  A petitioner in this Court who seeks                  
          judicial review of a denial of relief must show that the                    
          Commissioner asserts that he owes more in tax than reported on              
          his return.  By amending section 6015 the way it did, Congress              
          narrowed the class of individuals able to invoke our jurisdiction           
          under section 6015(e)(1)(A) to those “against whom a deficiency             
          has been asserted.”  We cannot fairly read Congress’s phrasing of           
          this qualification as other than a clear, though perhaps                    
          inadvertent, deprivation of our jurisdiction over nondeficiency             
          stand-alone petitions.  Placing that circumscription where it               
          did, the “assertion of a deficiency” has become the “ticket to              
          Tax Court” that notices of deficiency are in redetermination                

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