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Working With the New IRS Independent Office of Appeals

By Joel N. Crouch on July 6, 2020

On July 1, 2019, the Taxpayer First Act was signed into law and among other things, it established the “Internal Revenue Service Independent Office of Appeals”. The IRS Office of Appeals has been around for almost 100 years and has generally been independent.  However, the Taxpayer First Act codified the Office of Appeals and its long-standing purpose and duties, i.e., “ to resolve tax controversies, without litigation, on a basis which is fair and impartial to both the Government and [the taxpayer] in a manner that will enhance voluntary compliance and [public confidence} in the integrity and efficiency of the Service”.

So, if Appeals has been around for almost 100 years, what does adding “Independent” mean?  According to the IRS Independent Office of Appeals Fact Sheet:

Appeals employs policies and procedures that are consistent with our mission and designed to ensure our independence. Appeals’ role is to settle disputes in a fair and impartial manner that favors neither the government nor the taxpayer. We attempt to resolve cases after IRS compliance functions (Accounts Management, Collection, and Examination) have made a determination with which the taxpayer disagrees. We do not perform compliance actions.

Our goal is to ensure that the IRS compliance functions are the finders of fact and Appeals does not take investigative actions. These policies ensure taxpayers have a true appeal right – where Appeals reviews a final determination made by a compliance function.

That same Fact Sheet has the following list of “What Taxpayers Need to Know”,

  • Taxpayers should fully cooperate with IRS compliance functions during the development of their case and provide all documentation and information to support their positions to the compliance functions, so the file is complete when it comes to Appeals.
  • When appealing a compliance function’s decision, taxpayers should be specific in their protest about the item(s) in dispute.
  • Introducing new information in Appeals may result in Appeals releasing jurisdiction over the case and returning it to the compliance function.
  • Our policies help to preserve the opportunity for an impartial appeal for taxpayers by ensuring Appeals is reviewing a final determination made by a compliance function.
  • In cases where a petition has been filed with the United States Tax Court (docketed cases), Appeals will share all communications received from the compliance function with respect to any examination assistance provided. The taxpayer will have an opportunity to review the findings and respond to Appeals in attempting to resolve disputed issues.

Let’s hope that the codification of Appeals and the insertion of the work “Independent” in the name will result in a more “independent” Appeals office. 

In a 2017 blog post, we discussed Practical Suggestions for Effectively Representing a Taxpayer Before IRS Appeals. Those suggestions are still applicable to any taxpayer or tax professional contemplating filing a request with the new IRS Independent Office of Appeals.

Additional IRS information regarding the IRS Independent Office of Appeals can be found at Appeals An Independent Organization, Preparing A Request for Appeals , IRS Appeals Fact Sheet and Office of Appeals FAQs .

For questions related to this or any other civil tax or criminal tax-related matter, please feel free to contact Joel Crouch at (214) 749-2456 or jcrouch@meadowscollier.com.