IRS Appeals: Procedures and Strategies

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The Internal Revenue Service has distinct organizations that deal with issues resulting from positions taken on taxpayers’ returns. The Small Business/Self-Employed and Large Business & International Divisions are responsible for selecting returns for audit, auditing the returns and determining whether the taxpayers’ return have taken positions contrary to IRS’ positions. When a dispute arises during an examination, the examining agent will attempt to resolve the item in dispute but the agent’s authority is limited in how such a resolution is reached. For example, agents may make factual findings based on the information developed during the audit and/or apply the existing law to the facts. However, examining agents may not settle issues based on the hazards of litigation; e.g. when there are legal precedents that differ on how a specific issue should be resolved. Hazards of litigation settlements are within the purview of the IRS Appeals Division. Accordingly, it is imperative that advisers know the rules and strategies in taking disputed issues to IRS Appeals.

This practical webinar from Bloomberg BNA, IRS Appeals: Procedures and Strategies, presented by Thomas Cryan and Sheldon Kay, provides advisors with the latest policies and procedures governing cases taken to Appeals and the best strategies in getting favorable resolutions in Appeals.

During this webinar, Cryan and Kay will cover:
• What are the options for taking a case to Appeals. 
• How to write a great protest and avoid the most common errors. 
• Understanding the new Appeals Judicial Approach and Culture and using it to your clients’ advantage. 
• Why taking a case to Appeals through a protest of a 30-day letter is usually more advantageous than getting there through a Tax Court petition. 
• How to prepare for an Appeals conference and what you need to know about how Appeals settles issues. 
• What does hazards of litigation mean and how to use it in settling issues. 
• What Alternative Dispute Resolutions are available and when to use them. 
• Understanding restrictions on Appeals’ settlement authority and strategies for dealing with them. 
• What settlement documents are used in Appeals and their advantages and disadvantages? 

Educational Objectives:
• Analyze the Appeals process and formulate appropriate strategies; 
• Determine the various ways cases are taken to Appeals and the differences between docketed and non-docketed cases in Appeals; 
• Recognize important protest issues and how to avoid common mistakes; and 
• Identify the various Alternative Dispute Resolutions that are available and when to use them



Thomas M Cryan, J.D., LL.M., is a Managing Director with WTAS LLC in McLean,Virginia.  He has over 30 years of experience leading tax advisory teams for publicly held and private companies. In this capacity he has represented clients in tax controversies with the IRS, including the examination phase, pre-filing agreements, through the appeals phase, including post appeals mediation. He also has consulted clients in understanding and applying complex provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, including the statute of limitations for deficiencies and overpayments, the mitigation provisions, the unified audit procedures for TEFRA partnerships, reportable transactions, accuracy-related penalties for underpayments, return preparer penalties, information reporting penalties, reporting foreign financial accounts and various other procedural statues and regulations. Before joining WTAS, Thomas was in the national tax practice of two international professional service firms. Prior to such time, Thomas was with the IRS in Washington D.C. for 10 years as an Assistant District Counsel in the Office of the District Counsel and a Technical Assistant to the Director, Tax Litigation Division of the Office of Chief Counsel. In his varied roles, he has presented leading edge topics on tax controversies.


Sheldon Kay, J.D., C.P.A., is a partner with Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan in Atlanta, specializing in tax controversies.  He was most recently, the Chief, Appeals Division of the IRS.  He has litigated over 40 cases and taught litigation techniques and discovery practice at the Chief Counsel, IRS and the National Institute of Trial Advocacy.  He has also taught courses in Tax Accounting Methods and Periods; Tax Practice and Procedure; Individual Income Taxes; Corporate Income Taxes; Tax Research and Writing; among other courses at various undergraduate, graduate and law schools around the country. He has handled several Alternative Dispute Resolution matters and has been involved in many Appeals Office meetings.  Before joining Sutherland, he was a partner at a large CPA firm and an executive and trial attorney for the Office of Chief Counsel, IRS.