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IRS collection matters take on another component: Mediation

A new IRS mediation program applies to taxpayers in Connecticut and nationwide. It is called the Fast Track Mediation Collection program. With respect to IRS collection matters, the program may prove to be useful to taxpayers or it may be more of the same but with new packaging.

The possible success of the program remains to be seen, say some observers. The agency asserts that the program will resolve collection cases more quickly. It is really a modification of a program begun in 2000 that did not garner notable success. In this incarnation, it is billed as applying to all taxpayers with collection problems as opposed to just business owners and self-employed individuals.

The new program was just issued recently, but its predecessor procedure involved an appeals mediator acting as a neutral party. Mediation is different than arbitration in that mediation does not usually result in a mandatory decision that is legally enforceable.  Generally, mediation is a procedure that is not enforceable and it depends on a mutual and voluntary agreement between the parties. The role of the mediator in this kind of alternate dispute resolution procedure is traditionally to ease the parties toward a voluntary resolution.

With respect to IRS collection matters, it remains to be seen if the mediator will follow that standard role precisely. It is reported that the IRS mediator will not have settlement authority over the collection case. This program will now be opened to anyone whose case is with the collection unit of IRS. For taxpayer residents of Connecticut who are facing complicated, large or protracted collection matters, it is always best to consult with an experienced tax attorney to assure that all options are considered and all requirements are met.

Source: accountingtoday.com, "IRS Revamps Fast Track Mediation for Tax Debts", Michael Cohn, Nov. 23, 2016

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