According to the Internal Revenue Service, the purpose of the appeals process is to resolve tax disputes without the case going to court. While it’s easy to be intimidated by the IRS, the goal of the tax appeals process is to reach a resolution that is fair to you and Uncle Sam. Fortunately, there are government procedures in place that give you a say in the decisions the IRS makes.
Although an office of the IRS, the appeals office works to render an impartial decision by settling tax problems without a court trial. During the appeals process, an appeals officer examines your reasons for disagreeing with the IRS about how much money you owe. Because the process is informal, conferences are conducted by telephone, by mail or in person. At the beginning, your right to appeal as well as the appeals process will be explained to you. In addition to supplying a written statement listing why you disagree with the IRS, you may offer solutions as to how you think your case should be resolved. It is your responsibility to provide documentation you think will be helpful to your case.
Audit Appeals Process
Although you have the right to appeal the outcome of an IRS audit, it can take up to a year before your case is resolved. However, you only have 30 days following the audit to file an appeal with the IRS. In the event you request an appeals hearing, you must prepare to support your position. For example, you might think the IRS misunderstood the facts in your case. If after your appeals case you still do not agree with the decision the IRS makes, you will have 90 days to file a petition with the U.S. Tax Court. In the meantime, interest and penalties continue to accrue on your unpaid tax liability.
If you originally owed the IRS $50,000 or less in taxes, the appeals process tends to be less complex. The catch is, you must abide by the decision of the Tax Court. If, on the other hand, you owed the IRS more than $50,000 before you began the appeals process and disagree with the ruling of the Tax Court, you can then appeal your case to U.S. District Court. Since it will cost you more money to proceed with the case, this is the time to consult with a tax attorney if you haven't already. An attorney experienced in tax law can help you maneuver through what can be a rather complicated tax appeal process.
Taxpayer Advocate Service
If you are unable to resolve your problem with the IRS, the Taxpayer Advocate Service will investigate your claim and assist you in finding a solution. There is at least one taxpayer advocate office in each of the 50 states. Taxpayer advocates have the authority to cut through some of the bureaucratic red tape in their efforts to assist you, speeding the process. It doesn’t matter whether you or the IRS is at fault, if you still have a problem after going through the standard IRS procedures, you can contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service for help. Prepare to provide the taxpayer advocate with copies of any correspondence between you and the IRS, in addition to any notes you’ve kept from telephone conversations. Unless you have requested an appeal or previously contacted the IRS and received no meaningful response, the Taxpayer Advocate Service is unable to help you.
Amber Keefer has more than 25 years of experience working in the fields of human services and health care administration. Writing professionally since 1997, she has written articles covering business and finance, health, fitness, parenting and senior living issues for both print and online publications. Keefer holds a B.A. from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. in health care management from Baker College.