Federal Tax Law: How to File a Formal Protest with the IRS

An IRS audit of your tax return is daunting enough, but what happens if you do not agree with the findings of the audit? The good news is that you have options for contesting the IRS’ findings through the IRS’ appeals process.  

The appeals process starts when you receive the determination that is unfavorable to you. For our purposes, let’s say the IRS disagreed with your deductions of expenses for business purposes and now claims that you owe the taxes instead. The first step is to review the determination carefully and consider the nature of the error. Did the IRS misinterpret the law as it applied to your case? Did the IRS misunderstand the facts and apply the law to those misunderstood facts? Did the IRS use the wrong facts altogether? It is important to answer these questions before you begin the process of appealing the decision because it allows you to focus on the issues, gather your arguments, and make a detailed response.

Remember, the IRS appeals process can only handle issues related to tax law. It does not address appeals based on moral or religious grounds, nor can it handle questions of conscientious objections.

Typically, the IRS allows you 30 days in which to appeal the determination. To do this, you must file a formal written protest to be able to request an Appeals conference, unless the amount in controversy is low enough, in which case you may be eligible for a small case request. All other formal written protests must be made in writing and include detailed facts and law in support of your claims. For cases involving amounts over $10,000, you must also sign the letter under penalty of perjury. It is very important at this stage to offer your additional information or new documentation.

Once your formal protest is lodged and it meets the requirements for an appeal, the appeals officer – who is not the person who conducted your audit or issued the decision you are now appealing – will review the matter. These reviews typically may  take  months.  You may also request a face-to-face meeting. We always request such a meeting.  

If you disagree with the finding of the appeals office, then the IRS generally must send you a formal Notice of Deficiency referred to as a 90 day letter, in which it proposes that you owe money to the IRS,  If you disagree with the IRS you must file within 90 days, if you reside in the United States, a Petition in Tax Court where you are entitled to a trial before a Tax Court Judge.  Other alternatives include an action in the Court of Federal Claims or the United States District Court.  Each of these forums has particular requirements and rules pertaining to the facts and circumstances of your case.. The Tax Court, the United States District Court, and Court of Federal Claims are independent of the IRS.  

If you have an unfavorable determination from the IRS and want to pursue a protest, consider contacting the attorneys at Weisberg Kainen Mark to assist you. They are well-versed in the IRS’ rules and regulations and can use their knowledge to get you the best resolution possible.

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Written by Weisberg Kainen Mark, PL

Weisberg Kainen Mark, PL

Weisberg Kainen Mark, PL is a Miami-based law firm focused on providing comprehensive legal support to individuals and corporate entities caught up in tax controversies or charged with a criminal act. As experienced trial lawyers with a passion for justice, our firm provides clients with compelling advocacy, attorney availability, and creative solutions to your tax or criminal law matters.