IRS to Cancel Face-to-Face Conferences with the Taxpayers?

IRS, in recent times, has faced some substantial slashes in its budget, forcing it to make some difficult choices. It looks like the IRS executives have given up on the “Do more with less” slogan.

The IRS administration is currently in a state of flux mainly due to the recent Presidential Election. The IRS executives are trying everything possible to cut down their budgets. One of the methods that the IRS is trying is to minimize the face-to-face conferences, which happen between the taxpayers and the IRS Appeals Officers

As an alternative, the IRS officials suggested that they could conduct the conference via telephone. It is understandable that it is important for the IRS to take the necessary steps to balance the current budgetary constraints. However, a telephonic conference is not the right platform for resolving complex issues like tax disputes between the taxpayers and the IRS.

Many tax litigation and controversy attorneys believe that a telephonic conference call is not the right platform for resolving the complex matters involved in the administrative appeals submitted by the taxpayers.

If the lawyers are not in the same room as that of the decision makers, they cannot read their body language and measure the reaction of the IRS Appeals officers. Usually, an advocate or a lawyer adjusts his/her appeal based on how the IRS Appeals Officer is taking it. If a doubtful look is seen across the IRS Appeals Officer’s face, then the advocate would put forward his/her presentation in a different way so as to convey the message.

The other and the most important reason why the taxpayer’s advocate and the IRS Appeals team must have a face-to-face conference is that the Administrative Appeal is more negotiable in this manner.

This is the primary difference between an IRS Administrative Appeal and litigation. The IRS- Exam Team first presents its case well ahead of time, and later it’s removed from the appeal process. Then, the taxpayer’s representative tries to persuade an IRS Appeals Team to solve the tax issue in an acceptable (not necessarily favorable) manner to his/her client. Any experienced negotiators will testify that for the success of a negotiation; it must be done in person.

Regardless of the complexity or the size of the tax issue, each taxpayer must be given a fair chance to have a face-to-face negotiation with an IRS appeals officer so as to bring the tax issue to an acceptable decision. It is not a field where restrictions or shortcuts should be implied by the IRS to safeguard its limited resources.

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