Brager Tax Law Group posted that the IRS announced that effective Oct. 1, 2016, it will rarely conduct Appeals Conferences in person. More specifically, Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) 188.8.131.52, blandly entitled “Conference Practices,” provides that ALL conferences will be held by telephone except under certain specific enumerated circumstances. Those circumstances are as follows:
The mission of the IRS Appeals Division is to “resolve tax controversies, without litigation, on a basis which is fair and impartial to both the Government and the taxpayer and in a manner that will enhance voluntary compliance and public confidence in the integrity and efficiency of the Service.” Unfortunately, this new policy will not further that mission, and indeed will impede it.
- There are substantial books and records to review that cannot be easily referenced with page numbers or indices
- The ATE [that’s Appeals Team Employee, aka Appeals Officer, or Settlement Officer] cannot judge the credibility of the taxpayer’s oral testimony without an in-person conference
- The taxpayer has special needs (e.g. disability, hearing impairment) that can only be accommodated with an in-person conference
- There are numerous conference participants (e.g., witnesses) that create a risk of an unauthorized disclosure or breach of confidentiality
- An alternative conference procedure (e.g., Post Appeals mediation (PAM) or Rapid Appeals Process (RAP)) involving separate caucuses will be used
- Another IRM section specific to the workstream calls for an in-person conference
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