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Looking at the IRS appeals process and expedited resolution of tax controversies, P.1

Disputes with the Internal Revenue Service can become quite involved, especially when there is a lot of money in dispute. The IRS, like any bureaucracy, has various procedures it is required to follow when investigating taxpayers, and taxpayers have due process rights they need to be aware of so that their interests are given fair consideration.

In some tax dispute cases, a taxpayer’s interests are best served by opposing the IRS and taking their case to the courts. In many cases, though, tax disputes can be resolved by fully pursuing the agency’s appeals process. The appeals process can be pursued by taxpayers who have received a determination from the IRS in their case, who have a letter explaining their right to appeal the decision, who do not agree with the decision, and who decline to sign any agreement forms sent to them, whether to extend the investigation or to pay the additional tax assessment.  

The IRS is supposed to handle appeals in a fair and impartial manner. Within the appeals process, there are some cases that can qualify for expedited resolution. One possibility is Fast Track Mediation, which allows taxpayers to resolve a dispute with the IRS at the earliest stage of the collection process. The IRS aims to resolve these cases within 40 days.

A recent Forbes article looked briefly at the Fast Track Mediation program, pointing out that the program can allow for speedy resolution of a dispute without barring a taxpayer from pursuing the traditional appeals process. A couple things to note about the program are, first of all, that it is only appropriate for certain types of cases; second, a request to mediate needs to be made at the proper time—after the issue has been fully developed, but before the IRS has made a final determination in the taxpayer’s case.

In our next post, we’ll look a bit more at the Fast Track Mediation program, how it folds into the overall IRS appeals process, and the role an experienced attorney can play in the process for a taxpayer. 

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