updated 5/21/2007 12:11:50 PM ET 2007-05-21T16:11:50

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that only the U.S. Tax Court may review refusals by the Internal Revenue Service to reduce interest payments on people who underpay their taxes.

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The unanimous decision came in the case of a couple who were assessed additional taxes. John and Pamela Hinck sued in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims seeking an $18,000 refund of interest. They alleged delays in processing their case.

Chief Justice John Roberts said federal law specifies that the tax court provides the exclusive jurisdiction for such cases.

The claims court said it did not have jurisdiction to consider the Hincks' suit, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said only the U.S. Tax court had jurisdiction.

At issue is a 1996 provision in the tax code that allows the IRS to reduce interest attributable to any unreasonable error or delay by the agency.

The case is Hinck v. U.S., 06-376.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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