Dealing with the Internal Revenue Service is stressful and difficult even if you've done everything right. You may think that you can handle an IRS audit on your own, but you may inadvertently make your situation worse. A well-qualified tax controversy attorney acts as an important buffer between you and the IRS, ensures that the IRS follows its rules, and that your rights are respected. Brandon Keim, as a former senior IRS trial attorney, was the attorney that the IRS's agents turned to when they needed help. Now he can help you.
Don't Talk to the IRS Alone.
The IRS wants nothing more than to talk to you without an attorney. The IRS may ask you to come into an IRS office as part of the letter notifying you of the examination. You are not required to appear until you receive a formal summons, and you never have to appear before an IRS agent without an attorney.
Since you've done nothing wrong, you may think that there is no harm in talking to the IRS. But the IRS is a law enforcement agency. IRS agents are skilled investigators. IRS agents may misconstrue your words, and it may mean increased taxes, penalties, and in some cases, criminal prosecution.
If you talk to the IRS on your own, you may be forgoing certain rights. An attorney can help ensure that you balance your desire to resolve the audit with the need to protect yourself from serious consequences. If you decide to proceed on your own, you should never lie to an IRS agent.
Brandon Keim is experienced in IRS summons procedures, and can help you understand whether the IRS's summons is valid, whether you should comply with the summons as drafted, and whether you should assert your constitutional privilege to remain silent, even if you think you've done nothing wrong.
Limit the Scope of an IRS Audit.
IRS audits generally start as a one-year audit with certain issues under examination. Depending on the information presented by a taxpayer, an IRS agent may expand the scope of an audit by increasing the number of years under audit, increasing the number of issues to be considered, and by referring you for a criminal investigation. Brandon Keim can counsel you about the current scope of your audit, and determine the best strategy for presenting information in a way that attempts to limit any potential expansion.
Many taxpayers and their accountants attempt to handle an IRS audit on their own, and because of something they provide or say, usually without the IRS asking for it, the audit is expanded to include additional years, issues, penalties, and fraud. Brandon Keim can help you avoid this.
Reduce the Cost and Time Involved.
Audits can be expensive, and time consuming. Brandon Keim can help you reduce the cost, and time involved by:
- Presenting information to the IRS in a manner that is easy to understand, and tailored to help them resolve any concerns.
- Reminding the IRS that the taxpayer knows tax procedure as well as they do and will not be trampled on.
- Limiting the opportunity for the IRS to ask questions of a taxpayer.
- Narrowing the scope of information requested by the IRS.
A tax controversy attorney does not have to replace your accountant. Brandon Keim can work with your accountant to protect your rights, restrict the flow of information to the IRS, and ensure that necessary information is provided to the IRS in the most efficient, cost-effective manner.
Resolve Disputes with Appeals.
The IRS Office of Appeals is separate and independent from the IRS's examination function. Appeals' goal is to resolve tax disputes without the need for litigation. Taxpayers request an appeals conference through either a small case request or a formal written protest. If a formal written protest is required, your request must meet specific requirements in order for your case to be sent to Appeals. If you do not meet the requirements, you may forgo your opportunity to go to Appeals.
Once in Appeals, it is important to remember that the appeals officer will give your case a fresh look, and you should be prepared to present your case in an easy to understand manner, pointing out the flaws of the IRS's determination, explaining the relevant law, and highlighting all applicable facts. Appeals, unlike the examination function, will consider "hazards of litigation" in developing a proposed settlement. Taxpayers and accountants are not experienced tax litigators, and therefore, they may not see or appreciate the hazards that Appeals should be considering in formulating a settlement. Brandon Keim can help ensure that Appeals considers the government's hazards of litigation, and if an appropriate settlement cannot be reached with Appeals, he will help you consider your litigation options.