Appeals are unique within the tax administration, because we have the authority to commit the amount of taxes due to resolve a dispute. This means that appeals can offer taxpayers a fair settlement based on the likely outcome if their case were to go to court. We refer to this as assessing the risks of litigation. In this regard, I should point out that not all disputes deserve a compromise and some issues do not pose litigation risks.
Appeals officers and conciliation officers are trained to carefully review the facts and the law of each case in order to reach an unbiased and fair settlement. You can improve the chances of reaching a favorable settlement by providing as much evidence and supporting documentation as possible with your case. Although not required, taxpayers can have a representative to handle their case. Taxpayers who can't afford a representative may be eligible for free assistance through ClinicPDF for people with low income taxes.
As head of the Independent Office of Appeals, I would like to remind taxpayers that they can have their case reviewed by an appeals officer who is independent of the IRS compliance function that made the initial determination in their case. If you can't resolve your case on appeals, you may have the right to challenge the IRS's determination in the Tax Court or other federal court. If a conference is requested, the examiner will send the conference request letter to the appeals office to organize a conference at a convenient time and place. Do not send your protest directly to the IRS Independent Office of Appeals (Appeals); this will only delay the process and prevent the appeals from considering your case.
See publication 5, Your appeal rights and how to prepare a protest if you don't agree (PDF), for information on how to prepare your protest. If you have filed an appeal request and think it has been too long, you can learn more about how to check the status of your appeal in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section, in the What to Expect from Appeals section. It's important to remember that you should submit your appeal request to the IRS compliance person who worked on your case. Recently, in the case of unfiled review or collection appeals, the entire process, from the time your case is received in Appeals to the time it is resolved or closed in Appeals, lasts an average of 7 or 8 months.
In addition, if you are appealing a collection decision, you should select the appeal procedure below that corresponds to your type of case for specific instructions to prepare your appeal. If you have filed a petition with the Tax Court before going to the appeals, you have a “filed” case and the time involved will also be affected by the dates and deadlines set by the court and beyond the capacity of monitoring the appeals. As mentioned above, appeals can also consider the dangers of litigation or the likely outcome if your case were to go to court. Additional information about the appeal process can be found in publication 5, Your Rights to Appeal and How to Prepare a Protest If You're Not from acuerdo. PDF.
An appeals officer generally deals with audit-related issues, such as fines or tax additions. We hope that the independence of appeals, the quality of decision-making and the streamlined processes will continue to encourage taxpayers to invest the time and resources needed to reach an agreement with the IRS.