Thursday, April 02, 2009

IRS Testing Fast Track Mediation

Remember the idea of a “kinder, gentler Internal Revenue Service?” You are probably rolling your eyes at the thought, right?

But it seems the IRS is trying to find ways of working with taxpayers, rather than fighting them. The IRS has been testing Fast Track Mediation in eight areas in the country. These mediations are designed to help resolve tax disputes quickly and with less paper flying.

Tax issues for which you may request mediation include:
  • Examinations/audits
  • Offers in Compromise
  • Trust fund recovery penalties
  • Collection actions
Taxpayers do not have to file written protests to request fast track mediation. If you disagree with the IRS’s findings or determinations on your tax account, ask for a mediation session. In order to expedite, make sure your tax filings are current, and you have provided necessary documentation to the IRS Compliance office.

On the appointed day and time, the IRS representative and you will meet with the mediator. Who is this mediator? Well, usually an IRS Appeals Officer who has been trained in mediation. This does beg the question, how impartial can mediators be when their paychecks come from one of the parties they are mediating?

The mediator’s job is to facilitate communication, guiding everyone to a mutually beneficial resolution. Like any dealings with the IRS a tax attorney or CPA with a Form 2848 Power of Attorney and Declarations of Representative on file is allowed to represent your interests. And since the mediator and the IRS representative know the laws, it would be a good idea to have someone familiar with taxation law on your side as well.

While mediation can not solve all tax problems, this is an interesting program the IRS is testing, and I’ll be interested to see how useful it is.

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