Mediation is becoming a buzzword in more than just civil and divorce litigation. The IRS has also joined in this trend with its IRS Revenue Procedure 2016-57, titled Fast Track Mediation-Collection.
Under the new procedure, an IRS Office of Appeals mediator is assigned to a tax dispute as a neutral party. The mediator will meet with both sides: the taxpayer and the IRS Collections agent. Although this is not a trial, it may be helpful to attend these meetings with professionals that can provide specialized or expert opinions on the underlying matters, such as asset valuations, expense standards, projections of future income, or reasonable collection potential.
Certain cases are not eligible for the new mediation process. The IRS has offered some guidance for the types of cases that may qualify for mediation, and an attorney who focuses on IRS controversies and tax law can provide further guidance. An attorney can also help with the timing of this type of relief. For example, mediation requests should be made before IRS Collections has issued a final determination regarding the tax controversy.
Our Connecticut tax law firm encourages our clients to utilize mediation, but only if an attorney will be present during the meetings to protect their interests. The recommendation made by the mediator is not binding upon the parties, so a taxpayer still has the right to utilize the traditional administrative processes with the IRS. However, any opportunity to resolve one or more issues in a mutually agreeable fashion can save a taxpayer time and money.
Source: Forbes, “Shorten Ta Disputes With IRS Fast Track Mediation,” Robert W. Wood, Dec. 7, 2016