Discovery Tools, Request for Production of Documents

There are several ways you can ask for documents in informal discovery. See Rules 72 and 73.

First, you can make informal requests of both your opponent and any non-hostile third parties, for copies of or the opportunity to copy, documents you need to establish your facts at trial.

Electronically stored information is subject to discovery in the same way hard-copy documents are. This includes things like e-mail messages and computer files. These files are generally produced in the format in which they were created. Neither party has an obligation to reformat information for the other party’s convenience, if, for instance, one party does not have the necessary software required to view the documents or files.

You can ask for documents generally without knowing their exact titles or names, but you should avoid requests that are overly broad. For example, a request for “all IRS documents showing Petitioner is liable for the income tax” would probably be objected to as vague, overly broad, or overly burdensome. Whereas, a request for “all documents, reports, notes, returns, forms, or writings created by Agent Ima Geeman concerning petitioner for the year 2004” would probably be specific enough to get you what you are looking for.

You want to ask for all documents in a person’s “possession and control” rather than just their possession. This will prevent inadvertently allowing someone to weasel out of providing a document he left with his attorney, or at Mom’s house.

When you receive a Request for Production of Documents, you can produce them in a variety of ways, depending on how they are kept and how many documents there are. If there aren’t that many, you can make copies and mail them off to the requester. You can also bring originals …

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Lysander Venible is the author of "On Your Own in Tax Court," a book about how to save your shirt in U.S. tax court. He has been engaged with the Service for over 10 years both administratively and in tax court.

If you have questions, topics or a situation you'd like to discuss, comment below or click the "About/Contact" tab above.

Lysander is not an attorney and it is not his intent to offer legal advice.

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