IMPROVING NATIONWIDE ACCESS TO IRS APPEALS; PUBLIC INPUT WANTED:
The Internal Revenue Service Independent Office of Appeals is soliciting public input on how best to improve access to Appeals for taxpayers who do not live near an Appeals office.
Appeals resolves federal tax disputes without litigation in a way that is fair and impartial to taxpayers and the government. If a taxpayer’s dispute with the IRS qualifies for an appeal, the office will review the issues with a fresh, objective perspective and schedule a conference.
“Conferences are a key way in which Appeals hears the taxpayer’s position, understands the law and facts in dispute and proposes a resolution,” said Andy Keyso, Chief of Appeals. “During the conference, the Appeals officer will engage with taxpayers in discussing potential settlements. At the conclusion of their appeal, they should understand exactly how and why their case was resolved.”
Appeals offers a variety of conference options:
Appeals offers conferences by telephone, video and in person and can also resolve a taxpayer’s dispute by mail or secure messaging. Generally, it’s the taxpayer’s or their representative’s choice how to meet with Appeals. The type of conference chosen doesn't impact Appeals’ decision. Employees can successfully resolve taxpayers’ disputes with the IRS using each type of conference.
Though telephone conferences are consistently the most popular choice among taxpayers with pending appeals, the office has expanded use of video conferencing nationwide. Given the increased popularity of video conferences over the past few years, Appeals is creating permanent guidelines for video conferences, informed by public input. They’re also ensuring that taxpayers and representatives who prefer to meet with Appeals in person have that option. Appeals has a presence in over 60 offices across 40 states where they can host in-person conferences.
Appeals offices tend to be in heavily populated areas, which makes them convenient for most taxpayers and representatives who request an in-person conference. However, not all taxpayers live close to an Appeals office. While these taxpayers may prefer the convenience of meeting by telephone or video, Appeals wants to be sure they have a reasonable way to accommodate requests to meet in person as well.
Public input sought on ensuring accessibility to all taxpayers, representatives:
To meet in person with taxpayers in states with little or no Appeals presence, Appeals would historically “circuit ride,” meaning Appeals Officers would travel quarterly to a designated location in the state. In practice, it has been helpful to have more flexibility in both timing and in finding a convenient location for the conference, without state lines posing a potential barrier. For example, some taxpayers living in Kansas find it more convenient to meet in Kansas City, Missouri, rather than at the IRS office in Wichita, the designated location in Kansas. Also, Appeals has traveled as needed to meet taxpayer requests, finding the strict quarterly schedule to be at times too often and sometimes not often enough.
Appeals already has a policy of providing an in-person conference reasonably convenient to taxpayers and is committed to upholding this “reasonably convenient” standard by traveling to an IRS office closer to a taxpayer who does not live near an Appeals office. Some limitations, such as regulatory requirements or the availability of Appeals officers with the right technical expertise apply.
In coordination with the National Taxpayer Advocate, Appeals welcomes public comments on how it can further improve conference options for taxpayers and representatives who are not located near an Appeals office. Appeals particularly welcomes thoughts on:
- Revising or replacing the “circuit riding” policy in IRM 220.127.116.11.1.1 to expand opportunities for timely in-person conferences for taxpayers living in those states.
- Facilitating participation at in-person conferences when taxpayers and their representatives are not co-located.
- Best practices for conducting hybrid conferences, where some participants meet in person and others join by video or telephone.
- If a case must be transferred within Appeals to facilitate an in-person conference, how best to avoid substantial delay in resolving the underlying tax dispute.
- Encouraging participation in in-person and video conferences by taxpayers in historically marginalized communities or with limited English proficiency and ensuring accessibility by persons with disabilities.
“We want all taxpayers to have a productive conference with Appeals in which they feel heard,” said Liz Askey, Deputy Chief of Appeals. “We welcome public feedback on ways we can be more accessible to taxpayers who do not live near an Appeals office.”
Public comments can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org by July 10.