Understanding the Federal Tax Appeals Process

Tax litigation

Tax laws change regularly, and are a challenge to adequately decipher under the best of circumstances. Even with the requisite due diligence and the help of a CPA, you may find yourself the recipient of a letter from the IRS “inviting you to an audit.” If you’ve been audited by the IRS and disagree with their findings, all is not lost.

Your rights as a U.S. taxpayer include the right to contest an IRS bill which you feel is inaccurate or unfair by filing an appeal. The key to gaining a satisfactory result from an appeal is strict adherence to each step of the process. Guidelines and deadlines must be closely followed.

How it Works

The Office of Appeals provides a separate avenue through which the taxpayer and the IRS can avoid litigation and resolve disagreements over various tax issues. To that end, the office acts independently of the IRS Examination division and works to settle each case fairly for both the taxpayer, and the IRS.

Depending on the amount the IRS proposes that you owe in any given tax period, you will need to file either a small case request or a formal protest. If the total amount you owe for each tax period is less than $25,000, you can file a small case request. Again, in either case, adherence to procedure and time limits is essential.

Going it Alone, or with Professional Help

You can file an appeal yourself through your local IRS appeals office within the specified time limit (typically 30 days).  If you don’t file the appeal you will receive a Notice of Deficiency. You would then have 90 days to respond, with the only recourse available to you at that point being to file a petition in the United States Tax Court. If you file within the designated deadline, a conference will be scheduled, either by correspondence, phone or in person, between you and an IRS Appeals Officer. If you can’t settle your case with the Appeals Officer you will need to have your case heard by the Tax Court.

Rather than handle the appeal yourself, you can have a representative accompany you, or appear on your behalf. If you dispute an IRS bill, a tax litigation lawyer can help you navigate the appeals process and greatly increase your chances of a resolution favorable to you.

Our attorneys specialize in tax litigation for our clients here in Southern California, and all over the world. We possess not only an intimate understanding of federal tax law, but the experience you need to successfully appeal an IRS audit, lien, or levy.

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