Tax Appeals

In California, as in many other jurisdictions, federal, state and local authorities have increased their tax collection efforts. This means more audits and more enforcement activities. Of course, any encounter with taxing agencies can result in an outcome that is devastating to your business, investment, or other financial activities. If you have received an outcome from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or state or local taxing authority you disagree with, you have a right to appeal that decision. Through the appeals process, you may be able to reduce your obligation substantially, or even eliminate it entirely. The Los Angeles tax specialists at the Ben-Cohen Law Firm have the knowledge, experience, and determination to help you reach the resolution you desire.

A complex process that requires skilled representation

If you are audited by the IRS and receive an unacceptable result, your next step may be to file a protest with a local IRS Appeals office. The Appeals division of the IRS is designed to provide you with an independent impartial review of your case after an audit is completed. The stated mission of the Appeals division is to resolve tax controversies, without litigation, on a basis which is fair and impartial to both the Government and the taxpayer in a manner which will enhance voluntary compliance and public confidence.

After a protest is timely filed, the Appeals officer that receives your case will set your matter for a conference, at which time the agency will explore the prospects of a settlement. The Appeals officer acts as both the fact finder and arbitrator. It is the function of the Appeals officer to close as large a percentage of his cases as possible on an “agreed” basis. Unlike Revenue Agents and other IRS personnel, an Appeals officer can take into consideration the so-called “hazards of litigation.” Hazards of litigation can be defined as the IRS determination of the probability that the IRS position might not be upheld by a court. Often it is the consideration of the “hazards of litigation” which will result in a favorable settlement for taxpayers.

If the Appeals conference does not resolve your case, the next step is the federal courts. You may even choose to bypass the Appeals process and proceed directly to court. However, the Appeals process offers a viable avenue for resolution in many cases. It offers taxpayers the possibility of settling without the expense of litigation, while leaving the door open if the Appeals process concludes unsuccessfully. It also allows the taxpayer additional time before an obligation to pay any taxes related to the dispute, and creates the possibility of recovering attorneys’ fees if the court determines that the IRS action lacked sufficient legal justification.

Nonetheless, the Appeals process also carries risks. If the Appeals officer who reviews your case determines that the original auditor missed certain tax obligations, you may end up owing more, not less, as a result of the Appeals process. The help of an experienced and specialized tax attorney can be critical in helping you avoid an adverse IRS Appeals outcome.

Not just for federal matters

In addition to representing clients in appeals involving federal matters, we also assist our clients with state tax disputes. Similar to the federal process, you have the right to appeal a California Franchise Tax Board assessment, and the process starts with filing a written protest. The next appellate steps are to proceed to the State Board of Equalization, and then to the court system. At our Firm, we frequently represent clients before each of these agencies.

Tax appeals can be complex and tricky matters, with procedural pitfalls that may be traps for the unwary. Our firm has a long track record of handling these matters, from the protest stage to the highest judicial appeals. We provide our clients with comprehensive advice regarding how to proceed through this complicated process, and stand by them through every step. If you have concerns about the potential appeal of a tax dispute, contact the Los Angeles tax attorneys at the Ben-Cohen Law Firm. We have the tools and the determination to help you reach the best possible outcome.

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