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ID-100266473Last week I began the conversation saying, “When you are being audited you might not realize that you do have rights as a taxpayer.”  And You DO!  We all do. The mission of the Internal Revenue Service is to “provide America’s taxpayers top quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities and by applying the tax law with integrity and fairness to all.” I became The IRS Insider based on my personal experience as an income tax auditor. The IRS is a BIG organization. My perspective is limited to the Examination and Appeals Divisions.  I have colleagues who help me and help you with the Collections side of the big tax machine. When you are in the audit “hot seat” you may not feel it is fair for you to be there, but the IRS just has unanswered questions based on the tax return you filed. Below, is the IRS Declaration of Taxpayer Rights, I may comment on one or more of these rights, but will not paraphrase or condense them.  I have so much to say about your right to representation that this article is limited to only this one item, Taxpayer Right Number Four.
 “4. Representation. You may either represent yourself or, with proper written authorization, have someone else represent you in your place. Your representative must be a person allowed to practice before the IRS, such as an attorney, certified public accountant, or enrolled agent. If you are in an interview and ask to consult such a person, then we must stop and reschedule the interview in most cases. “You can have someone accompany you at an interview. You may make sound recordings of any meetings with our examination, appeal, or collection personnel, provided you tell us in writing 10 days before the meeting.”
Based on my own experience, when a taxpayer wanted to record our interview, it made me even more cautious about what I was saying. That is not to say that I wasn’t careful to speak the truth or to act in a courteous manner without the recording. It meant that as IRS employees, we were less spontaneous. We were more guarded in what we said. Every case that is worked by any IRS employee is subject to review by their division’s review staff. If the reviewer has questions about determinations made, the case can be “kicked back” to the auditor for explanation. If the review staff feels the case has not been developed fully, or worked properly, it will not be closed until the auditor addresses the concern of the reviewer. As the auditor gains experience on the job, the better judgment they develop and the fewer cases are returned by the reviewer. But a random case will still be subject to review at any time in the examiner’s career. When the taxpayer wants to record the interview, they must request this 10 days in advance of the appointment so that the auditor can arrange for their own recording device. The auditor will also have their supervisor, or another auditor, present during this recording. Will you have someone accompany you? Or will you feel outnumbered? Do you want this interview to be the most formal or the most comfortable? I know, it is never comfortable in the audit “hot seat.” Next post I’ll talk about the remaining four taxpayer rights.