During the later stages of a tax audit by the IRS, you have the opportunity to do a ‘Fast Track’ appeal to resolve your dispute within 60 days and to avoid the lengthy full appeals process. This might not always be advantageous and still requires representation for you to achieve any results of benefit to you. 

What is the SB/SE Fast Track Appeals Program?

The IRS Small Business / Self-Employed (SB/SE) program is designed to speed up disputes over decisions made by IRS auditors over your tax issues. 

Where an issue has ‘fully developed’ with the IRS you can ask for the Fast Track program to settle the dispute quickly. You can ask for a Fast Track Appeal after a Notice of Proposed Adjustment (NOPA) and before the 30-Day Letter is received from the IRS. 

You will fill in a Form 13369 and request the program through the IRS group manager who will decide whether you qualify for it. This isn’t an automatic decision as we will discuss later, but if you are approved the form will be signed by the group manager and sent to an Appeals mediator.

The Appeals mediator is an IRS employee – not from an independent body – who is trained in dispute resolution and will arrange an ‘FTS Session’ conference between the parties in the case. Your parties will present your case and the opposing parties there and in theory, an agreement will be reached. 

You can still withdraw from the process at any time and go to the full Appeals process which can take a lot more time but will involve independent mediators. 

Reasons you may be refused access to the Fast Track system

There are several grounds on which the IRS group manager will be able to refuse access to the Fast Track Appeal. Here are four key exclusions:

  • You have not cooperated during the audit
  • Cases that have been referred to the Department of Justice
  • Issues that require the assessment of the hazards of litigation
  • Collections cases that aren’t covered in the Collections Fast Track Appeals program

These are classic cases where you will have to appeal in the normal way – or defend in court.

Acrimonious relationship with the examination team

Tax audits are extremely stressful and where you have developed a poor relationship with the examination team – as often happens – then they may well be less likely to work with a mediator on your case. 

In these instances, it is strongly advised that you appeal the decision upon receipt of the 30 Day Letter.  

You still need legal representation

By the stage you are in a tax audit you should have taken on a tax debt specialist like Defense Tax to support and represent your interests.

The idea that a case is fast-tracked does not mean that the process or arcane tax code is in any way simplified. The IRS as judge and defendant in these cases would love you to fight the appeal yourself as with few exceptions people lack the knowledge of the tax code. The IRS’s sole business is to manage and enforce the tax code!

This means that you should never be lulled into a sense of security that this is an easy way forward as it still requires expert representation and knowledge for you to succeed in the appeal.

The IRS will still pursue you aggressively. The process of tax debt collection will remain stressful and potentially very expensive no matter your decision as to take the IRS on in any appeals process, fast-tracked or not. It will not get them off your back. Having a tax attorney will ensure that the IRS agents will play by the rules and not behave in a way that they may should they believe you do not understand the process.  

Defense Tax will advise you as to the wisdom of taking on a Fast Track Appeal and if you insist on pursuing it will represent you through it. 

Contact Defense Tax Today!

IRS tax audits can be an utter nightmare to navigate and oppose. Get in contact with Defense Tax now to discuss your position and let us support you through the process. 

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