If you do not agree with an IRS decision or action against you, you may file an appeal. The government has a system in place to handle disputes between taxpayers and the Service. In many cases, disagreements can be settled outside of tax court. Appeals must be based on tax laws, though — not political, moral, conscientious, or other such grounds. If you do not wish to appeal within the IRS, you may take your case directly to tax court.
What Is an Appeals Conference?
You may appeal an examiner’s tax decision at a local appeals office. The Appeals Office is separate from the examiner’s IRS office. You or your authorized representative may hold a conference with an appeals officer in person, by telephone or through correspondence.
An appeals conference is an informal session during which a neutral officer seeks to resolve your tax issue the same way in which a judge settles disputes between defendants and plaintiffs. The object of the appeals process is to help taxpayers settle their contentions on a basis that is agreeable for the taxpayer and the government without a formal trial. However, if you are not satisfied with the outcome of the conference, you may take your case to court.
How Do I Request an Appeals Conference?
The letter of proposed tax adjustment includes directions for requesting an appeals conference. The letter explains two ways in which you can ask for an appeal: a small case request or a formal written request. You will need to submit either request within the time frame indicated in the letter, which is usually 30 days from the date of the letter. You will also need to prepare yourself with documentation of facts and laws to defend your position.
If your tax liability amounts to $25,000 or less and involves only one tax period, you may be able to submit a small case request. A small case request usually relieves you of the responsibility of providing more detailed formal protest information. You must submit a formal request if your tax liability is over $25,000 and involves more than one tax period.
Your protest should include:
Upon receiving your request for a conference, the examiner turns your letter over to an appeals office which will schedule a meeting with you. You or your authorized representative should prepare to cover all your disagreements. An enrolled agent, lawyer or CPA can represent you at an appeals conference. An unenrolled preparer cannot represent you, although they may attend the meeting as a witness. Fortunately, these conferences often result in satisfactory resolutions for taxpayers.
You will find details about the Appeals process in IRS Publication 5, Your Appeals Rights and How to Prepare a Protest if you Don’t Agree.
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