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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, June 12, 2003

IRS mediation programs resolve tax disputes faster

CBS MarketWatch

NEW YORK — The IRS is offering mediation programs for individuals and businesses with tax disputes to streamline the process. These programs have cut down the time to it takes to resolve tax disagreements to less than one-third of the time it takes in the regular appeals process.

Based on good results in the last couple of years, the IRS is making its taxpayer dispute mediation programs permanent. The process involves using an appeals officer to act as a neutral party when the taxpayer and IRS disagree.

In the Fast Track Mediation program, small businesses and the self-employed taxpayers have been resolving their tax issues with a neutral party in less than 40 days. In the standard appeals process it typically takes several months.

Mediation for large and mid-size businesses called the Fast Track Settlement Program encourages them to resolve tax issues earlier in the process than in the standard audit and appeal process. When the settlement program was conceived, the IRS aimed to resolve disputes with businesses within four months. After a year and half, these tax matters have been settled in an average of 69 days.

Taxpayers who go through mediation may still appeal the decision in Tax Court.

For more information on mediation programs, see www.irs.gov/newsroom.