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IRS appeals and tax disputes: not only a process, but a forum

In our previous post, we wrote about how the IRS is seeking to make the written notices it sends to taxpayers more readily comprehensible.

The increased commitment to clarity is certainly welcome news for taxpayers in a tax system that has become so complex and difficult to navigate.

In this post, we will discuss one of the possible scenarios that can arise when you did not agree with the IRS about how it proposes to handle your taxes. More specifically, we will discuss the procedure of an IRS appeal.

The appeal we are referring to here is an administrative appeal. To be sure, there is also the possibility of an appeal of a tax dispute that is pursued through the court system. What we are discussing here, however, is an appeal that takes place within the IRS itself.

An IRS appeal, then, is not only a process. It is supposed to be, in the IRS’s own words, “an informal administrative forum” available to taxpayers who disagree with determinations about their taxes made by the IRS.

And so, when the word Appeals appears in capital letters, it refers to the forum where these determinations can be challenged and perhaps resolved.

The goal, then, is a form of simplified dispute resolution. Without having to engage in formal tax litigation in the courts, IRS appeals are supposed to provide a forum to do so within the agency itself. For example, an IRS appeal can be a way to challenge the determination that an IRS agent came to in a tax audit.

Of course, many tax disputes cannot be resolved at the administrative appeals level. But it is nonetheless worthwhile for taxpayers who disagree with an IRS determination to become familiar with the procedure. It is worth it because the procedure can potentially be used – often with the assistance of a tax attorney – to assert a taxpayer’s rights.

Source: IRS.gov, "What Can Appeals Do for You?"

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