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Examination/Appeals and Tax Court Representation

Nothing can make you more anxious than getting a letter from the IRS informing you that you are the subject of an audit. And this feeling is certainly justified – over a million individual tax returns are audited annually, with total proposed adjustments in the tens of millions. How many times does an assigned IRS Field Agent audit a return and not recommend any changes at all? According to IRS published statistics, less than 10 percent of the time.

Most unrepresented taxpayers give up and sign the Examiner's "waiver" at the conclusion of the audit, agreeing to the proposed adjustments without appreciating that this is often just the beginning of the dispute. Even taxpayers who are aware of their administrative appeal rights, or ability to further challenge the IRS determinations in the federal Tax Court, give up because they feel out-resourced, or shamed into submission by overbearing bureaucrats.

If you don't feel like you received a fair shake during the Examination process, what can you do? First, you can pursue your dispute administratively, by filing a "protest" within 30 days of receiving the Examiner's report of his or her proposed adjustments to your tax return. The protest needs to indicate the areas of disagreement and the reasons therefor. After some processing time, you will receive a letter from the IRS informing you that your case has been assigned to an Appeals Officer, who will be contacting you for more information to support your positions. The Appeals Officer is structurally independent of the Examiner who made the proposed adjustments, and has the job to resolve the dispute based on the "hazards of litigation". In other words, the Appeals Officer is looking to settle the case. But make no mistake about it – the Appeals Officer will not give away the store, or resolve issues that are clearly in the government's favor.

Appeals Officers work for the IRS, and frequently "rubber stamp" the Examiner's proposed adjustments, whether your dispute is legal or factual. What is your recourse? Filing a petition with the United States Tax Court within 90 days of the "notice of deficiency" issued by the Appeals Officer after you have failed to reach a settlement.

Contact Skilled Chicago Tax Lawyers

Our office has been representing individual and business taxpayers before the IRS Examination and Appeals divisions, and in the United States Tax Court for those cases that cannot be resolved administratively, since 2000. Prior to that, Decatorsmith worked for the IRS Chief Counsel Office where the overwhelming majority of his professional time was spent preparing cases for trial on behalf of his former client, the mighty IRS. Our office has the experience, the relationships, the skill, and the legal savvy to provide you strong, committed representation, powerfully advancing your positions in the administrative process or before the federal courts. At the Tax Practice of IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, you can rely on aggressive, ethical, and personalized representation – we encourage you to make your problem our problem to solve.


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