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Appealing an IRS audit

An audit and appeal process within IRS is one of the most dreaded procedures by all taxpayers. It can lead to criminal sanctions, back dating of taxes, penalties, and even interest. However, should you feel unsatisfied with the auditors' findings; you can launch an appeal with the IRS Office of Appeals.

Benefits of appealing an Audit

Well, as stated earlier, the appeal can reduce or even eliminate previously assessed taxation, penalties, or both. However, studies indicate that only a negligible percentage of US citizens appeal their audits. The reason behind this is unknown considering that the appeal process is easy and fast. It has no cost implication as well unless the taxpayer engages the services a tax specialist, which most often is unnecessary.

Interestingly, the stakes of winning the appeal is exceptionally high. According to IRS data, average taxpayers who appeal can anticipate a 40 percent reduction of the total sum assessed by the IRS auditor. The appeal also postpones the due date of the tax bill during the appeal process. This gives the taxpayer enough time to consolidate funds required to offset the assessment or come up with a payment plan.

Limitations of the appeal

There are some instances where the appeal may prove detrimental. Although very rare, there are chances that the audit may find other items that the initial auditor missed. However, the safer alternative would be to sue the IRS in a Tax Court if it did not flag the issue on its previous return. This is because there is no profound justification of introducing a new issue at this spot. Despite the fact that, the appeal postpones the tax bill due date, the interest, and penalties will still be accruing. This means that, one may end up paying more should they lose the appeal.

Process of appealing the audit

On completion of the audit, the taxpayer receives a comprehensive report from the IRS. The report outlines all proposed evaluations and changes, split into taxes, interest, and penalties. The first step to institute an appeal is to avoid signing the report and returning it as it is. The outcome is a receipt of a 30-day letter detailing how you can launch an appeal. You will then have 30 days from the time the letter is dated to file an official protest. However, you may request for an extension should you be unable to do so within the stipulated time.

The taxpayer has three options in filing the appeal

1. The taxpayer can simply make a written request for an appeal via a letter or IRS "Request for Appeals Review" also known as Form 12203 (downloadable from the IRS website) for an appeal if the amount owed is less that USD 2,500.

2. Write a protest letter titled "small case request' in case the amount owed is between USD 2,500 and 25,000. The letter must include taxpayers contact details, tax ID numbers of all parties involved, declaration of intent and itemized breakdown of all disputed items. Alternatively, the taxpayer can complete Form 12203.

3. Form 12203 is the only option for taxpayers owing more than USD 25,000.


In theory, appeal process within IRS can pose severe consequences to taxpayers in some instances. Most of those who come out of it have a better chance of their audits been reversed. You may learn more about audit and appeal process within IRS, from www.irs.gov.

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