Hertsel Shadian, Attorney at Law, LLC

Some Important Facts about IRS Appeal Rights

13 May 2010

The IRS provides an appeals system for those who do not agree with the results of an IRS tax return examination, with other adjustments made by the IRS to their tax liability, or with collection (lien or levy) actions undertaken against them by the IRS. Here are some things to know when it comes to your appeal rights within the IRS:

  1. When the IRS makes an adjustment to your tax return, you will receive a report or letter explaining the proposed adjustments. By law, this letter also should explain how to request a conference with an Appeals office in case you do not agree with the IRS findings on your tax return.
  2. In addition to tax return examinations, many other tax obligations also can be appealed.  You also may appeal penalties, interest, trust fund recovery penalties, offers in compromise, liens and levies.
  3. You generally can request a face to face meeting with an Appeals Officer or Settlement Officer at an IRS office located nearest your home or place of business. However, conferences also can take place by telephone.
  4. Appeals conferences are informal meetings. You may represent yourself or have someone else represent you. Those allowed to represent taxpayers include attorneys, certified public accountants or individuals enrolled to practice before the IRS.
  5. If you request a conference with an IRS Appeals employee and choose to represent yourself without an attorney or other professional tax advisor, you are urged to be prepared with all appropriate documentation, records, and arguments to support your position. Appeals Officers generally will review and consider all reasonable arguments and records; however, be cautioned that Appeals Officers or Settlement Officers will not consider frivolous arguments or those based on specious Constitutional grounds that have been repeatedly rejected by courts.
  6. The IRS Appeals Office is separate from—and independent of—the IRS office taking the action you may disagree with. Thus, the Appeals Officer will review the disputed issues from a fresh and unbiased perspective and generally will seek to resolve the matter fairly. This includes flexibility to settle a matter on terms that are more favorable to the taxpayer than previously were proposed by the IRS, including taking into account the risks of litigation to the IRS if the matter is not resolved.
  7. The Appeals Office is the only level of administrative appeal within the agency. If you do not reach agreement with IRS Appeals, or if you do not wish to appeal within the IRS, you may appeal certain actions through the courts.
  8. For further information on the appeals process, consult your professional tax preparer or other professional tax advisor. You also can refer to IRS Publication 5, Your Appeal Rights and How To Prepare a Protest If You Don’t Agree, and Publication 556, Examination of Returns, Appeal Rights and Claims for Refund. For further information, see also Publication 1660, Collection Appeal Rights, which discusses how you can appeal collection actions and Publication 3605, Fast Track Mediation–A Process for Prompt Resolution of Tax Issues. These publications, along with more information on IRS Appeals, are available on the IRS website at www.IRS.gov.