The IRS Independent Office of Appeals has laid out a taxpayer service initiative that is scheduled to begin in 2023.
The IRS Independent Office of Appeals on Friday released its focus guide for the fiscal year 2023, which outlines actions the office is taking to improve taxpayer access to Appeals and to increase communication with external stakeholders.
The focus guide outlines the upcoming taxpayer service initiatives, which include:
- Increasing stakeholder outreach about the appeals process, including outreach to historically marginalized and limited English proficient communities.
- Improving access to in-person and video conferences, as well as revising letters and notices to ensure taxpayers understand that it is their choice how to meet with Appeals in general.
- Using technology to improve the way Appeals work and manages cases.
- Continuing the “Practitioner Perspectives” series, in which tax practitioners share their insights and feedback with Appeals staff. Prior panel discussions on Collection Appeals and Examination Appeals have been recorded.
- Creating training for Appeals employees on how to improve customer engagement.
“We are excited to share Appeals’ 2023 priorities,” said Appeals Chief Andy Keyso. “We will continue to do everything we can to ensure a positive experience for taxpayers and practitioners while building on our past successes and applying lessons learned from the challenges posed by COVID-19.”
A significant achievement in 2022 was the way Appeals handled a sharp rise in cases that were referred for settlement after the taxpayer filed a petition in the United States Tax Court. Many of these cases involved taxpayers who did not have legal representation and were the result of communication difficulties and difficulties obtaining and sharing documents during the pandemic.
Appeals gave these docketed cases top priority and allocated extra resources to swiftly settle them in order to prevent further delays. In April 2022, Appeals released policies that would simplify how staff would handle these cases. In accordance with these rules, shortly after receiving the cases, Appeals tried calling the affected taxpayers. Additionally, Appeals took into account settlements for a specific dollar amount, accelerated tax computation, and simplified internal documentation of proposed settlements. To settle the cases efficiently, appeals officers used their professional judgment, including accepting oral testimony where appropriate.
Appeals used this approach to resolve all 7,500 docketed cases that were pending when the initiative began. The IRS is working to increase the number of cases resolved at the earliest possible stage—before a dispute arises—in order to achieve long-term improvements in the taxpayer experience.
“We are committed to ensuring that taxpayers and practitioners are satisfied with the appeals process,” said Shahid Babar, acting deputy chief of Appeals. “The 2023 focus guide is a way for us to share our ideas for continually improving how Appeals resolves tax disputes with the public and with employees.”
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