Understanding taxpayer rights: The right to appeal an IRS decision in an independent forum

Taxpayers have the right to appeal an IRS decision in an independent forum. This is one of ten basic rights — known collectively as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights — that all taxpayers have when working with the IRS.

The IRS’s Independent Office of Appeals that handles a taxpayer’s case must be separate from the IRS office that initially reviewed that case. Generally, Appeals will not discuss a case with the IRS to the extent that those communications appear to compromise the independence of Appeals.

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Here are some important details about the right to appeal a decision in an independent forum:

  • A statutory notice of deficiency is an IRS letter proposing additional tax. Taxpayers who receive this notice and then timely file a petition with the United States Tax Court may dispute the proposed adjustment before they must pay the tax.
  • Taxpayers are entitled to a fair and impartial administrative appeal of most IRS decisions, including many penalties.
  • Taxpayers have the right to receive a written response regarding a decision from the Office of Appeals.
  • When taxpayers don’t agree with the IRS’s decisions, they can refer to Publication 5, Your Appeal Rights and How To Prepare a Protest If You Don’t Agree, for details on how to appeal.
  • Generally, taxpayers may file a refund suit in a United States district court or the United States Court of Federal Claims if:
    • They have fully paid the tax and the IRS has denied their tax refund claim.
    • No action is taken on the refund claim within six months.
    • It’s been less than two years since the IRS mailed them a notice denying the refund

More information:
Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer
Taxpayer Advocate
United States Tax Court
Online Videos and Podcasts of the Appeals Process

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