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U.S. FlagToday, in the wake of the recent decision by the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) to extend the income tax filing and payment deadlines to July 15, 2020, it announced a new taxpayer-friendly program called the “People First Initiative” (the “PFI”).  The PFI is designed to provide taxpayers with additional relief from the havoc wreaked by COVID-19.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig stated that the PFI is part of the Service’s “extraordinary steps to help the people of our country.”  It is a temporary initiative.  Unless extended, the PFI will be available to taxpayers from April 1, 2020 to July 15, 2020 (“Program Period”). 

The temporary relief offered by the PFI includes postponing Installment Agreement and Offer in Compromise payments, and halting many collection and enforcement actions.  During the Program Period, the IRS will provide needed guidance.

IRS Budget CutsAs I have reported in my previous blog posts, the IRS continues to get hit with severe budget cuts.  The result is not pretty: (i) tax collections are on the decline; (ii) the Tax Gap is growing; (iii) taxpayer non-compliance is on the rise; (iii) the availability of taxpayer education has diminished; (iv) the IRS’s customer service continues to worsen (e.g., long waits to speak with service center representatives, elimination of the opportunity for most taxpayers to have an in-person appeal conference, etc.); and (v) the IRS is outsourcing collections.

Effective October 1, 2016, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) changed its approach to conducting appeals conferences. The changes were likely adopted by the government under the guise of efficiency and cost savings. With that said, the changes probably will result in increased negative taxpayer perception of the IRS administrative process, and a significant reduction in prompt and fair resolution of matters at the conference level.

In a nutshell, the major change adopted by the IRS, subject to limited exceptions, is that the government will conduct all appeals conferences by telephone (or a virtual conference, if available). IRM § 8.6.1.4.1. An in-person conference generally will only be allowed if the appeals conferee (i.e., the “Appeals Technical Employee” or “ATE”) and the Appeals Team Manager (“ATM”) concur that it is appropriate and reasonable. As such, they must agree:

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Larry J. Brant
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Larry J. Brant is a Shareholder in Foster Garvey, a law firm based out of the Pacific Northwest, with offices in Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Washington, D.C.; New York, New York, Spokane, Washington; and Beijing, China. Mr. Brant practices in the Portland office. His practice focuses on tax, tax controversy and transactions. Mr. Brant is a past Chair of the Oregon State Bar Taxation Section. He was the long-term Chair of the Oregon Tax Institute, and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Portland Tax Forum. Mr. Brant has served as an adjunct professor, teaching corporate taxation, at Northwestern School of Law, Lewis and Clark College. He is an Expert Contributor to Thomson Reuters Checkpoint Catalyst. Mr. Brant is a Fellow in the American College of Tax Counsel. He publishes articles on numerous income tax issues, including Taxation of S Corporations, Reasonable Compensation, Circular 230, Worker Classification, IRC § 1031 Exchanges, Choice of Entity, Entity Tax Classification, and State and Local Taxation. Mr. Brant is a frequent lecturer at local, regional and national tax and business conferences for CPAs and attorneys. He was the 2015 Recipient of the Oregon State Bar Tax Section Award of Merit.

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