United States

IRS Appeals reverts back to in-person conferences in field cases

TAX ALERT  | 

The IRS has recently announced that it will be returning to in-person Appeals conferences.   Within the coming weeks, IRS Appeals will distribute guidance to its employees notifying them that Appeals will return to providing taxpayers with in-person Appeals conferences in field cases. According to Andrew Keyso Jr., acting deputy chief of IRS Appeals, the IRS will not do the same for campus cases, which make up a large majority of cases.

Last fall, IRS amended its Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) section 8.6.1.4.1, making telephonic conferences the primary method for conducting conferences and conducting in-person conferences only under certain facts and circumstances and with approval of the Appeals Team Manager.

The approval process for in-person conferences resulted in inconsistent treatment between requesting taxpayers. Furthermore, the IRM section 8.6.1.4.1 has been harshly criticized by the tax practitioners who believe that moving primarily towards the Appeals telephone conference takes away from the taxpayer’s and the Appeals robust discussion of the taxpayer’s case. Tax practitioners are also concerned that taxpayers will be adversely affected by the lack of face-to-face conferences because complete representation at Appeals often includes sophisticated presentations and complex negotiations.

Keyso explained that the IRS had decided to move away from the facts and circumstances test, in deciding whether the case will qualify for a face-to-face conference, because such an approach was time consuming and could produce inconsistent approvals/disapprovals. For now,   in-person conferences are available for field cases but not for campus cases. Examples of campus cases are primarily underreporter cases, correspondence exam cases and penalty appeals cases. Keyso stated that the IRS is open to suggestions from the ABA and others members of tax community regarding how the Appeals process can be improved for campus cases.

Takeaway

The IRS’ decision to reinstate in-person Appeals conferences in field cases is a step in the right direction. However, the fact that telephone conferences remain the default in campus cases is disappointing, considering that campus cases make up a large majority of cases in Appeals. The fact that the IRS seems open to improving the process for conducting campus cases in Appeals is promising.  

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