In the latest issue of A Closer Look, Andrew Keyso, Chief of the Independent Office of Appeals, discusses what taxpayers can do if they disagree with an IRS audit or collection decision.
“I’d Like To Remind Taxpayers That They Can Have Their Case Reviewed By An Appeals Officer Who Is Independent Of The IRS Compliance Function That Made The Initial Determination In Their Case. I’m A Big Believer In A Strong Appeals Function Within The IRS,” Said Keyso.
Appeals is an independent function within the IRS, completely separate from the compliance functions responsible for collecting and assessing taxes. Appeals provides an informal forum for taxpayers who disagree with an IRS determination. Our job is to resolve tax disputes without litigation, where possible, consider each case fairly and impartially and improve public confidence in the integrity and efficiency of the IRS.
We do this by listening to taxpayers, understanding both sides (taxpayers and IRS compliance), independently evaluating all arguments and available information and identifying appropriate settlement options.
We Have An Overall Staff Of Approximately
1,240 Employees, Mostly Appeals Officers
And Settlement Officers.
An Appeals Officer typically handles matters involving audit-related issues like penalties or additions to tax. For some complex matters, Appeals Officers may work as a team with other Appeals Officers. A Settlement Officer typically handles matters involving collection matters like whether the IRS followed proper procedures when imposing a lien or proposing a levy for unpaid taxes.
In Appeals, we work with taxpayers informally to settle tax disputes without a formal court hearing and, in most cases, without the need to hire someone to represent them. We provide taxpayers a meaningful opportunity to be heard, regardless of their educational or economic status, background or English language proficiency. In fact, the Taxpayer First Act of 2019 gives taxpayers the right to come to Appeals to dispute most IRS Compliance determinations.
Appeals is unique within tax administration, because we have the authority to compromise the amount of tax owed to resolve a dispute.
How to Request an Appeal
Typically, appeal rights become available following a compliance action by IRS that could include an audit, penalty assessment or notice of a collection action. If you receive an IRS notice and your case is eligible for an appeal, the notice will explain your appeal rights. At that point, if you disagree with the IRS determination, you can request an appeal. The next step is to write down, either in a formal protest or simple statement, the issues with which you disagree and why.
It’s important to remember that you should make your appeal request with the IRS compliance person who worked your case. That employee then will be able to send your appeal request, along with your case file, to Appeals. Taxpayers can also come to appeals after filing a petition in the United States Tax Court to dispute the IRS compliance action.
The Appeals Process
Once your case arrives in Appeals, we will assign it to an Appeals Officer or Settlement Officer depending on the type of case. Our goal is to have the assigned Appeals employee contact you by mail or telephone within approximately 30 days of receiving your case; however, it is taking longer these days due to pandemic-related delays and other resource constraints.
To evaluate your case, the Appeals Officer will fully consider your position and arguments along with the administrative case file from the IRS compliance person who worked your case. You may request to view the non-privileged part of the Compliance file prior to meeting with Appeals. One of the most helpful things you can do is provide all relevant facts, documents and other information supporting your position to the IRS compliance person working your case before it comes to Appeals.
Appeals Officers and Settlement Officers try to resolve cases after holding a taxpayer conference or by correspondence. But, some complex cases may take more than one conference to resolve. As mentioned earlier, Appeals may also consider the "hazards of litigation" or the probable outcome if your case were to go to court.
The scope and nature of our review depends on the type of case. But in all cases, the Appeals Officer or Settlement Officer will listen to your concerns and review any information or comments you present before making a final decision.
If your case results in a decision you feel is unfavorable, we will explain the reasons for our decision and any additional options you may have. If you agree to settle your case in Appeals, we may provide you with an agreement form to sign. If you are unable to settle your case in Appeals, you may be entitled to dispute the IRS determination in the Tax Court or another Federal court.
Recently, for non-docketed examination or collection appeals, the entire process, from the time your case is received in Appeals to the time it is resolved or closed in Appeals, takes on average 7 or 8 months.
Read more at: Tax Times blog