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Music Playing >> ANDY: Thank you for joining us today, and as we hold panel to explore best practices for working cases in Collection Appeals, this is the first of these panels that we are doing but it won't be the last. I think we will talk about Collection Appeals today, and our next panel up we plan to focus on Exam Appeals and perhaps after that future panels. Let me say a word about why we are holding these discussions.

You know all of you that we've talked a lot about the Taxpayer First Act in Appeals and the focus on the Taxpayer Experience.

In my view, nowhere is Taxpayer Experience more important in IRS than it is in Appeals. As you all know well, Appeals is the last opportunity for the taxpayer to resolve their case without litigation, so the last opportunity, but it's also the first opportunity for many taxpayers to speak with a human being in an effort to resolve their case and they may have gotten automated notices now from IRS and when they finally get to Appeals it is theirs first chance to talk to a human. That's a big responsibility for us to ensure that we've got processes in place, Taxpayer Experience mindset in place to work through with these taxpayers and promote a good, positive Taxpayer Experience.

I think promoting good Taxpayer Experience is a responsibility of all of us.

It's Settlement Officers as they interact one by one on cases but it's with management in Appeals as well and executive leadership to ensure that our processes facilitate a positive Taxpayer Experience.

I think this panel will be able to help us identify what works well, what could work better in Collection Appeals, so I'm thrilled to have them here today.

Let me stop and turn first to our deputy chief of Appeals, Lia Colbert. Anything you would add?

>>LIA: Hello and welcome. It is important to look at the processes through the eyes of the taxpayer.

The three practitioners we have that work extensively with Appeals will help us get the taxpayer perspective that works well in Appeals and identify areas where we can improve. We have very experienced Collection Appeals panelists who can speak to the Appeals processes and how practitioners and Appeals can best work together to provide that quality Taxpayer Experience. We hope today will be a two-way dialogue that leads to the full appreciation of what makes the Taxpayer Experience for Appeals. So Andy, I will turn it back to you to kick off the introductions.

>> ANDY: Yeah let’s get rolling. This person needs no introduction to us. The moderator. Shahid Babar.

This is his second year in Appeals, but great to have him on board.

And he has a long clear with IRS in SBSE operating division and most recently Director of Campus Collection in the Andover campus, and Lia and I have been thrilled since he came to Appeals, just how he thinks about things, how he's a change agent, always looking to improve processes.

I was glad he raised his hand to do the first of the inaugural version of these panels today, so Shahid will be our moderator. I will talk about our practitioners joining today and you can see them on the screen starting with Steven Jager, a Certified Public Accountant licensed in California, has over 40 years of experience in tax planning and compliance, income tax controversy, business strategic consultant.

He is admitted to the bar of the United States tax court which is no easy feat as a non-attorney, a tough test there, and I think that's quite an accomplishment.

Tax controversy is Steven's niche area, and he's represented plenty of clients before the Internal Revenue Service.

And no stranger to Appeals. He's been in Appeals here representing his clients but also before various California bodies, franchise tax board and others.

Steven is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the California Society of CPAs, the AICPA, Federal Bar Association, ABA, American Bar Association.

Steven, we are glad to have you here today. Thank you for joining us.

Next up, our panelist, Steve Klitzner, an attorney in Miami, practices exclusively in IRS problem resolution.

Also no stranger to Appeals, admitted to the US Supreme Court, US tax court, Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit and District for Southern District of Florida. Currently serving an appointed 3-year term with the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council, IRSAC, Lia and I had the pleasure of working with IRSAC last year. They issued a report about Appeals making some recommendations for things we could improve in the Taxpayer Experience arena and one of those recommendations was you should hold panels like this.

So, we're thankful for Steve suggesting that and joining us here today.

He's also our charter member American Society of Tax Problem Solvers, a member of Continuing Education Committee, and recipient of the organization's top practitioner awards, so welcome here, Steve. Thank you for joining us.

And then our other practitioner panelist Lisa Perkins. She's the director of the tax clinic at the University of Connecticut School of Law and has been a member of law school faculty since 2015, supervises law students there who represent low-income taxpayers before the IRS and Appeals and in tax court, also no stranger to Appeals.

Prior to that, Lisa was with the US Department of Justice for over 17 years, trial attorney in the tax division of the Western Criminal Enforcements Sections where she prosecuted tax crimes in the western half of the US; and also, assistant US attorney in Hartford before that handling civil and criminal litigation. I was impressed she is a fellow American of College Tax Council, not an organization that lets everybody walk in, pay their membership dues at the door. You have to be nominated by your peers.

It's an exclusive group and Lisa is a fellow, so I think that's great.

She is also a partner with the law firm of Screen and Slars in Connecticut who does a lot of work here in front of Appeals as well.

So. Let me, before I turn to Lia to introduce our Appeals panelists, let me just say that we selected the topics for discussion today in part based on what you all, the Appeals Settlement Officers had teed up as things you'd like to talk about, and also from what we have heard as practitioners that they would like to talk about as well.

And they have experience in topics talking about today, which is why we are happy to have them here.

And it goes without saying they are not receiving compensation for being here today. They are doing this out of their own initiative to help improve tax administration.

So Lia, with that, I'm going to turn to you to introduce our Appeals panelist.

>> LIA: Happy to. I will introduce Brandi Joyner. She's been with Appeals for over 11 years and works out of Knoxville office, currently the Direct of our Area 1 in Collection Appeals responsible for overseeing operation and northeast field in campus locations.

She was one of our Appeals presenters at last year's nationwide tax forums, Brandi thanks for your willingness to be part of our panel today. Exciting.

And Mike Blais, another panelist, has been with Appeals for 24 years, he works out of our Portsmouth, New Hampshire office he is currently working as our Senior Operations Advisor in collection Appeals. He's got extensive experience with our collection workstreams, processes, and procedures. Thanks, Mike.

And Rhonda Warren. Rhonda has been with Appeals for the past 12 years.

Manages a team of Settlement Officers out of our Plantation Florida office.

Worked in Appeals prior to becoming a team manager and she has vast experience with all collection issues, even particular background with the offer and compromise workstream.

She's also been presenter for Appeals in the nationwide tax forums.

There's our panel. We are excited to get started, and I'll turn it back to Shahid and thank you for everyone participating here today, not only the panel participants and teams in the background supporting this very large Zoom session, but all our Collection audience members. You all provided great feedback in advance that was used to build today's session and for being here for this inaugural event, and also, lastly, for your participation and engagement with any text chat questions you may have today.

I know you were given instructions on how to forward those, so we look forward to the dialogue. And with that, I am turning it over to Shahid.

>> SHAHID: So, without any further delays, let's get into a conversation and let's start by asking our Appeals panelists if one of you can help us understand, how does Appeals get to Appeals?

>> BRANDI: I can answer that one. We do get cases from field or campus collection and generally receive a CAP case within 2 to 3 days from when you have requested that.

Trust fund and equivalency hearings we get those pretty quickly in about 30 days, CDP case can take a little bit longer because the collection can hold that about a 45 days to try to work the case out with you before they send to Appeals, but it does eventually arrive in Appeals, and when it does, it goes to the processing unit calls APS. Now in APS we did a re-organization at the beginning of the year, so we centralized into two locations where all the cases for Appeals would go and it goes into a card in team, and that means the case is created on the Appeals system.

So we have a goal to get those cases carded in within five days, one day for CAPS and then after that the case is sent out for assignment. We can assign cases rather quickly especially CAP cases because we send those electronically so they are assigned very quickly and we do also have other paperless workstreams that we can assign quickly as well.

Then we have paper cases that may take a little bit longer to get to a Settlement Officer but once we have it in the Settlement Officer's hands, all they have to do is take the case into their inventory, and then they can go ahead and complete their initial analysis and they are ready to send out the first contact letter to you.

So, that's a little bit about how the cases actually go from the time when you file the appeal to when it gets to the Settlement Officer's hands.

>> SHAHID: So, let me turn it over to our practitioners. What is your expectation of an appropriate amount of time to hear from Appeals and how is your taxpayer or client impacted when the time to hear from Appeals is longer than what you were expecting?

>> STEVEN: I'd be happy to start. I would love to hear from an Appeals Settlement Officer within 90 days of when I filed either a protest or a CDP.

CDP is usually how I get into Appeals on the collection side.

Right now, it's taking upwards to a year to hear from Appeals, which I think is way too long. I think 90 days would be ideal.

What happens if it takes a year, I may have forgotten all the issues.

You know, I have a fairly good memory but not a great one and by the time the first letter comes in, or sometimes it's a phone call from an Appeals Settlement Officer, like remember your case for XYZ?

I don't always remember the case a year later or the specifics of the case, you know?

And I need a little bit of time to get up to speed, to refresh my recollection.

So I think 90 days would be ideal.

>> Shahid: Thank you, Steven. Lisa?

>> LISA: I can add a little bit to that just from the low-income taxpayer perspective.

I think our view would be that we would like to hear from Appeals sooner than 90 days.

90 days would be basically the end of our semester for my students, right?

And those clients would have to be shifted or wait for new student team to be assigned or what have you.

You know, right now we are hearing from Appeals in CDP cases.

It is taking an incredibly long amount of time. I've not had it take a year so far but in our view, I think 45 days would be reasonable. 30 to 45 days would be ideal.

Certainly we would need time when we file that CDP hearing request from the time we file it and hear from Appeals, we would be gathering information from our clients which is somewhat difficult and somewhat, it's difficult in private practice but the low income taxpayer situation makes it even more difficult because some of these folks don't have access to printers, computers, and getting the documentation we need takes time so 45 days gives us enough time to get that information ready and then when we hear from Appeals we can start working and moving it forward.

I can tell you what happens to at least my clients when we don't hear from Appeals on these cases within 45 or even 60 days. I mean, they are prone to panic, anxiety, they already are struggling with serious financial circumstances but the notices of intent to levy are sometimes continuing even past the time we file a CDP hearing request and that causes them a significant amount of stress.

Many of them are dealing with mental and physical health challenges that compound the problem and they worry about losing their wages or to levies, right, or their Social Security to levies.

They worry about not being able to pay their rent or pay for food. That's the reality.

>> SHAHID: Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. Steve, anything to add?

>> STEVE: I'm a patient man and I am willing to wait in line. I know Appeals is backlogged and there are certain cases that are very very important and once I hear from Appeals, I may feel that I should jump to the head of the line because there's that much of an emergency.

All I'm asking on those cases is when we do call, I just would like to get a call back from Appeals.

I know they are doing things in order, but on certain cases I'll fax, and I'll call and I won't hear from them till the hearing date and sometimes we can avoid the hearing if we could just have a very short conversation before that.

>>Lisa: You know, the time it takes, especially for a CDP hearing case, it's not necessarily the Appeals Officers, you know, that start this delay, right? It's that process of getting it to Appeals.

So, you know, it's not your Appeals Officers who are necessarily building in that 45-day delay.

I'd like to understand better, you know, what the obstacle is and what collections is trying to accomplish by delaying referral of the CDP hearing request and how to speed that up.

>> SHAHID: Perfect. Let me turn it over to Appeals panel and if you can talk a little bit about the timeframes that we have that are built in either in our IRM or procedures to contact taxpayers, and then a little bit about how much of what we just heard from our practitioners is related to COVID or other adjustments or flexibilities that we have created in the past two years, and especially to Lisa's question about if there is a delay on the compliance side, when do we see it or are we aware of that as well and when do we become aware of that?

>> MIKE: Thank you, Shahid, I can take that one. So we do have first contact timeframes.

If we find instances where we are not meeting those, we do work to address them.

For most of the CDP and offer in compromise cases we do attempt to issue the contact letter that schedules that conference within 30 days of receipt by the technical employee.

For the CAP cases, we attempt to hold the conference within two days of receipt by the employee and that's usually done by phone because we have a quick turnaround on those.

For TFRP cases the goal is a little bit longer than those, 45 days from receipt to get the contact letter out.

If for some reason due to unforeseen circumstances we find this isn't happening, we do reassign cases or work with the employee. We do spot check these timeframes with internal reporting in quality review system we have.

Those timelines are highlighted for the employees in the IRM and we do emphasize them in training and we also offer inventory management resources.

With respect to COVID and the last two years collection, I'm aware has a manual, some triage process that they look at, they do attempt to resolve those cases before coming over to Appeals so that, you know, can build in a little bit of a delay before it gets into our hands. And the practical considerations of the past two years which we hope throughout the point of working through that but with limited amount of people going into offices and still a lot of paper cases and even paper requests coming in that maybe ACS is scanning into the system so they can send them to us paperlessly, a little bit of backlog there but we are addressing that with them, trying to work on that and hope to see some improvement.

>> SHAHID: So, I’m going to switch gears a little to talk about we heard this through feedback with the practitioners, the whole FY21, the perception that our independence, when a pre-conference is issued and it sends that impression that Appeals has already made a decision on that issue.

So, for my practitioners here, anything to add to that?

What is your observation about that pre-conference letter and the perception that the decision has already been made?

>>Steve: That always is something very frustrating because we want our day in appeal.

Appeals is independent. We want to know that the Appeals Officer is listening to what we have because they may not have all the information in their file so we don't really want them to just look at what the revenue officer may have sent or what's in the file and make that decision.

And for the most part, Appeals is really good at this. I mean, you know, but we just want to feel like we are getting a fair shake and I think especially when you're dealing with an unrepresented taxpayer, if they feel that you're looking at everything and giving them an opinion or an answer based on the facts that you have, they will come away with that experience far more satisfied than if they think that it was a kangaroo court, they went to Appeals; Appeals just rubber stamped what was done below and they never got their fair chance. And that's what a lot of people are looking for.

They just want to be heard and fortunately, the place that most people get heard is in Appeals.

>> SHAHID: Just to add to that, so when a conference letter asks for additional information, what are some of the practical considerations that you or your client may have? Steven?

>> STEVEN: Practical considerations are the timelines, you know, I think some Appeals Settlement Officers have an unrealistic viewpoint as to how quickly a list, a laundry list of 14 items can be put together in 14 days.

Especially if it's, what's today's date, March 24. I often find myself reaching out to the Appeals Officer saying work with me here on a more realistic timeline, please, and I'll get you what you need, assuming that everything on that, I'll call it a laundry list, is reasonable. Not everything that I am asked is always in my opinion a reasonable request.

>> SHAHID: So let me follow-up with Appeals. How important is it for you for our Appeals Officers, Settlement Officers to receive this information and receive it in that timeframe that they are requesting?

>> RHONDA: I'll take that one, Shahid. It is very important that we do receive the information on time because if we don't receive any information, it actually hinges the ability for the Settlement Officers to be prepared to discuss the merits of the case, the issues.

We always want to give proper and fair consideration to the issues on hand, so, for an example, if you're requesting a collection alternative but the taxpayer is not in filing compliance, we might ask for returns, we need those returns. If the taxpayer is claiming that their income has decreased, we are going to need adequate verification of what the issue is.

It just helps us to become, the Settlement Officers to be prepared and to give you that meaningful conference that the taxpayer waited so long to have.

>> SHAHID: What I think Steven was asking about the reasonableness of the timeframes that are established, so what are some of the standard timeframes that you would establish and our employees would establish in a scenario that you just presented?

>> RHONDA: So, Steven was correct. We usually ask for 14 days to provide information.

21 days to provide us for the delinquent returns. But if you cannot -- if you need additional time, by all means, you know, pick up the phone, contact us.

You can eFax, different methods of getting into contact with a Settlement Officer.

Please, by all means, call, make good communication, say hey I need an extension.

I want to work with you and I need an extension.

>> STEVE: Communication is always key and what I think Appeals has to understand is that it's usually not us. Our clients by their nature have procrastinated, they are in way over their head.

Very often asking them to give you a bank statement is like asking them to write a master’s thesis.

It is so overwhelming in their mind. Everything else in their life is fine.

They can't get over this IRS hurdle in their head. You know. And I'll say to a client, you have to file the last three years. They want it right away.

How can they expect me to file the last three years in the next two weeks?

We are talking about overdue returns from years ago so that's a big challenge we have and for the most part, Appeals is usually gracious in giving us more time. But again, as long as we communicate to them that we need more time and do everything we can to get it to them.

>> SHAHID: Exactly, Thank you.

>> ANDY: I wanted to chime in there I think we were all thinking the same thing at the same time as Rhonda and Steve and Lisa as well, communication is the key, isn't it? I had the same thought that it may be just as difficult for practitioners to try to get information from their clients as it is sometimes from us to get information from a taxpayer, and it may be that they can't always meet those timeframes and the answer is I think as Rhonda said, pick up the phone and our folks need to engage in that conversation with the practitioner and say what would be a reasonable timeframe?

>> SHAHID: Excellent point. Let me turn it over to Appeals.

In terms of that prejudging or the perception, what is Collection Appeals doing in reference to that, or are we handling through our CPEs, through our training?

Is this something that we are even aware of and what are we doing if we are?

>> MIKE: Thanks Shahid I'll take that one. Our formal new hire training class does emphasize the Appeals philosophy and the quasi-judicial role that we fill, so this is further highlighted by an online orientation and a video meeting with leadership for our new staff when they are hired. We have CPE classes that regularly review the importance of impartiality by focusing on our discretion. One example is we have an annual CPE with counsel where hazard of litigation aspects are reviewed. Our management staff reviews cases and provides guidance, if any hint of prejudgment is noted.

To further support that, we have an IRM chapter devoted to ex-parte provisions.

We also have an IRM chapter on conference practice and that chapter emphasizes, again, the quasi-judicial role, guides us to keep an open mind and to have a genuine interest in reaching an agreement that is acceptable to both parties.

I will say we get new staff from a variety of backgrounds. Many do have compliance experience so we do our best to immerse them in our culture on the first day they are here.

We support this with more intensive training and coaching early in the Appeals tenure and we also have numerous Knowledge Management resources and communities of practice that lend further support in that regard. So, you know, it is an issue we are addressing and we are aware of and trying to stay on top of it.

>> SHAHID: Thank you. Let me switch gears a little. Most of the topics that we discussed, they were kind of pre-conference, so let's say we are at the conference now and to the practitioners, what is your primary expectation on the day of the conference?

What does a successful conference look or sound like to you?

And let's start with Steve and then -- I want to give each one of you at least two minutes on this one because I want to hear from each one of you.

>> STEVE: On CDP cases, we generally don't hope the case gets resolved at the conference because generally at the conference the Appeals Officer will say they will send it back to collections to look at the financials we have given them. But what we want to do in any type of appeal cases is we want to go towards resolving the case. I think that what we understand as practitioners in Appeals understands too is that this shouldn't really be an adversarial proceeding.

Appeals job is to try to resolve the case. That's our job too. We want to get together and come to an agreement that my client can agree to, that the IRS can agree to, that's fair to both sides.

So, that's really what we're looking for here. If we need more time, we want to ask them for more time. Sometimes a new issue comes up, but Appeals is so important because if we can't resolve the case and it goes back to collections, it may not be a good thing for our client. This is our one chance to resolve the case and when we're dealing with a trust fund recovery case which now Collection Appeals Officers are doing, you have to understand how important this is to the client.

Now, some people are willful and responsible but many people that are not and the revenue officer has just said, well, they signed a check here or there or they are the brother of the owner and they are a principle of the corporation, they must be responsible. Or maybe the revenue officer is running out of time to assess.

So it's very important for Appeals, when we don't have tax court rights, we have to go to federal court to actually look at these cases and give a real fair shot because these are cases where, if a bookkeeper is found to be a responsible party and really isn't, it could ruin his or her life. I'm not saying everyone's not responsible.

Majority of the people probably are. But you have to treat those type cases as seriously as we treat the other cases, the CDP and the other, the offer in compromise Appeals cases so that's basically what we are looking for there.

Again, we just want to know that the Appeals Officer who's now a quasi-judge, Appeals Officers nowadays look at what we give them, look at what they get from collection, make a fair and impartial decision and that's why they are independent and that's what we are looking at.

Whether I agree or not, that's fine, as long as we get a fair shake.

>> SHAHID: Thank you Steve. Lisa?

>> LISA: Yeah, I'll just add to that. I agree with Steve.

We want to know that our client is getting a fair shake, right?

We also want to know that the Appeals Officer is considering any of the special circumstances that have been brought to their attention. So, a lot of times in collections they are just running numbers.

They are not really looking at life circumstances and what might happen to someone who is disabled or has an illness that is progressing or what have you and how that might play out in terms of finances.

We want to know that Appeals is actually considering the argument, all the arguments we are making and not just reviewing just as collections did the pure financials and that's it.

>> SHAHID: Got it, Thank you. Steven?

>>STEVEN: I'd like to imagine a good conference where the Appeals Officer is looking for a way to say yes.

Unfortunately, too often, Appeals Officers seem to be looking for a way to say no because that's, that seems safe from their perspective. And for me, the challenge is have I been able to give them enough information about the circumstances so that they can find something to hang their hat on to say yes and that can be very very challenging because unfortunately a lot of Settlement Officers -- what I'm trying to say, the good news is they have a compliance background.

The bad news is they have a compliance background. So all too often they are too grounded and invested in all the work that the revenue officer has done before them to make the determination that the revenue officer has made and now they are looking for a way to support that and that's very very challenging as a practitioner to undo that.

>> SHAHID: Let me turn it over to our Appeals panelists. So from Appeals perspective, what are your expectations?

And Steve touched a little on different types of cases, like TFRP or OIC.

Does it differ by the workstream, you know, if it's OIC or CDP or CAP?

>> MIKE: Yes Shahid. On the issues that we consider at the conference, we could probably spend the rest of our time today unpacking this question but in it simplest form, we do consider all relevant issues of the conference.

In some respect that conference isn't limited to one specific date in time but it's the entire interaction with a technical employee, in a perfect scenario for us the government is fully developed their conclusions in the taxpayer or practitioner is clearly outlined what the areas of disagreement are and provided any needed support so that that conference can be productive.

For CDP in its simplest form, we are looking at whether a levy should proceed or lien notice should remain on file and for the offer.

We’re looking at rejection if appropriate or if the offer could be accepted for the proposed amount or another amount perhaps and for the CAP a little more limited -- limited looking at the appropriateness of the action taken or proposed and CDP is the largest workstream and we have the most guidance about that.

We have three roles in CDP which I think most are familiar with.

We verify the requirements procedure we met; we look at the issues raised; and then balancing is the third tenant there. We will talk about that a little more later, I think.

The issues raised in CDP; it can be a liability issue if there's been no prior opportunity.

Could be a collection alternative such as an installment agreement or offer in compromise.

Could be a challenge to the appropriateness of the collection action. Here we might discuss currently a collectible, the taxpayer could question the impact of a prior bankruptcy and we will look at that.

Now, for offers, we will evaluate the doubt as to collectability or liability, or if any effective tax administration issues were raised, we will look at those, and most of the offers we will see we will review the reasonable collection potential and various conclusions reached by compliance, especially in reference to any special circumstances that might be cited. We consider the merits of all the disputed issues but with that being said we are still bound by the discretion and by IRM 5 and 8.

The disputed issues here can be in respect to any asset or encumbrance, an exemption, income and expense items as well as special circumstances.

Now, for CAP, we have a more limited role. We have a quick turn around there and in CAP we review the case for appropriateness based on law, regulations, policy and procedures.

We look at all the relevant facts and circumstances.

For lien and levy cases we don't consider collection alternatives.

That’s a bit different from installment agreement cases though and here we will consider the appropriateness of the amount proposed. If after reviewing the information we do determine and an installment agreement either for the amount the taxpayer proposed or another amount is well supported.

We will direct collection to grant the installment agreement for that amount; with respect to CAP we did provide additional training in 2021 to ensure we are consistent on those cases and we also has the IRM updated to reiterate our role, reinforce that, and highlight the installment agreement issues that we noted.

So, to summarize there, we are kind of bound to a degree on a specific policy and provisions for each case type, but we do have discretion within a range of outcomes and we work to consider both sides of each disputed item.

>> SHAHID: Let me turn it over to our practitioners. You just heard Mike talk about CAP and the role that Appeals plays in CAP or how Appeals views what their role is in CAP.

Steve, I know you had discussed this in the past and do you think we are meeting that standard consistently?

That Mike just talked about?

>>STEVE: Well unfortunately not, and I think that's one of my few complaints about Appeals is actually the CAP Appeals, specifically CAP on installment agreement. Revenue officer says the taxpayer can pay $2,000 and we don't think they make that in a month, send for independent review, approved, or they agree with the revenue officer, we file a CAP hearing. What we saw in the past is that the Settlement Officer comes in and says they filed all the right rules and procedures in the law and I'm going to sustain the rejection of your installment agreement.

Well the law allows us in an installment agreement appeal and the way the IRS handles it through CAP Appeals and unfortunately the IRM was amended in September of last year to clarify the fact that Appeals does have to look at the facts.

Now, if I say a thousand and the revenue officer says 2,000 and the Settlement Officer feels it's 1500, they should and can and hopefully will offer that. But they are not going to negotiate with me.

I understand that. They say 1500, I'm not going to say well how about 1300. If that's their number I can either agree or disagree with it. We really need that real look on Appeals because if they say no and it goes back to the revenue officer, they are just going to start to levy and no one really wants that.

That's really the last resort. Another CAP Appeals also. I understand we have to get them done very quickly and when we get the call we have to be ready, but they really have to look at the actual facts in the case because that's the one place with Appeals that I don't think we have ever as practitioners really gotten a true appeal.

>> SHAHID: Okay, thank you. Let me turn it over and let me ask for a response from our Appeals folks.

You just heard and I know Mike you just mentioned IRM change and the CPE.

Do you think that what we've done so far addresses Steve's questions or concerns?

Or what needs to be done?

>>MIKE: I mean the CAP training did speak directly to those concerns.

We did just have that last year. You know, certainly if there are case examples not here today but recently but if there is case examples we could be made aware of we could look further into those to see if it's in compliance. You know, those IRM updates were made and shared and we had asked that the managers look at these at team meetings so we certainly have made an effort in that regard and if the effort isn't meeting the mark, certainly we are interested in examples that we can look into.

>> SHAHID: Now let's talk a little about when we ask for additional information, you know, as part of the conference and what concerns do you guys mostly have or what do you come across, what are your observations when you ask for additional information after the hearing?

>> STEVEN: What do you mean by "after the hearing?" >> SHAHID: Well, as part of your, let's say it's the CDP. If the Settlement Officer asks you for additional information you provided as part of the pre-conference letter you already provided a list of what was requested.

Now at the hearing if you're being requested additional information or right after the hearing you are requested additional information, how does that process work or what are your observations around that?

>>STEVEN: Assuming it's a reasonable request, I'm fine with it.

What I strive to do is to document the request and to document my response to the request.

My concern there becomes the administrative record. I want to make sure that the administrative record is clear, that I complied with every reasonable request made by the Settlement Officer because if we are talking in the context of a CDP, the next level up is the tax court and the tax court is really looking at abusive discretion and there's rarely abusive discretion found on the part of the IRS if the administrative record is what they are looking at and the administrative record is incomplete. So, I want to make sure that my administrative record is very complete with my side of the story.

>>LISA: I’ll just add that I have never had an experience where they have asked for additional information that was problematic.

As long as it's related to the requests that we're making in the record and we are provided a reasonable amount of time to provide that information, I don't see anything wrong with asking for additional information that's needed to help us resolve the case at Appeals.

>> SHAHID: Anything from Appeals on this?

>> RHONDA: Yes, usually when we do request information, it might be to clarify a disputed issue, so if you have a disputed issue the Settlement Officer might request something to clarify to come to a decision with the dispute.

>> SHAHID: In line with that, let's say when a preliminary finding that was reached at the conference has changed.

Prior to Appeals last, the final determination. What is your expectation and to the practitioners about additional discussion or engagement from the Settlement Officer?

>> STEVE: Well, I find that generally doesn't really happen very often.

If it does, it happens for a good reason. You know, I hold Settlement Officers to a higher level than revenue officers.

They are more seasoned, been around longer, have better training.

So I generally don't find that to be a problem with Appeals.

I think that for the most part Appeals Officers get it. They have been trained very well, they have been doing it for a while, they get that they are no longer super revenue officers and that what they are doing is looking at the record and trying to come to a resolution.

>> SHAHID: Uh-huh. Okay. Steven? Anything?

>> STEVEN: My experience is similar. I don't usually find that there's really much to say after the hearing itself.

It's pretty well resolved, and I loved Steve's description of super revenue officers.

>> SHAHID: Let me ask you guys about the last chance letter. We heard, you know, some feedback about that.

What is your experience with Appeals using the last chance letter? Steven?

>> STEVEN: It's inconsistent. Sometimes there is a letter sent out giving the last chance opportunity and sometimes there isn't, you know. I've had situations where maybe a letter is missed, you know.

Especially when we have Appeals Officers working at home, you know, and they think they sent a letter out.

I don't know what the actual process is when an Appeals Officer is writing correspondence and then relying upon somebody else to send a letter out. The letters don't always make it to where they should make it and if I actually didn't get a letter, which has happened, I would love to get a last chance letter or phone call. Did you happen to get the letter that I sent out on such and such date?

No, I didn't. So the last chance letter is nice as a safety net.

The last thing I want to do is explain to my client why we have to file a tax court petition.

>> STEVE: When they send that, they may have received it and missed it themselves.

We may have given it what they have asked for and may never have received the request so I think it protects everybody and it prevents abusive discretion in the tax court case so it happens sometimes and I will get a call from Appeals saying you didn't call me today for the hearing.

It's like I never received the letter from you, I never got the letter and I think that's the best way to handle it.

Usually when an Appeals Officers calls I it is like why would you ever want to speak to me?

No. But, you know, and I think that's part of the communication and the part of the fact that we are all in this together.

Every case has a resolution. Ultimately, everything gets resolved.

Some people pay every penny, some people settle for almost nothing.

But we've got to get reasonable people together to get to that resolution and by sending the last chance letter, everyone's assured that everyone's on board.

>> SHAHID: Let me ask Appeals, you know, your take on that, on the last chance letter.

>> RHONDA: So, the last chance letter is the collection due process, collection due process, the last chance letter, it's the preferred method. That's our preferred method.

So if we issue a substantive contact letter and the Settlement Officer does not receive a response, the preferred method then is we will issue the letter 4000, we are obligated to make a second attempt.

Now, if for example, we should call you an say hey, we scheduled an appointment, we didn't get the information, you didn't call, and then you say hey, we didn't get the, you know, we never got the letter, like you said, Steve, we will say okay, we'll come up with a mutual deadline to give you an opportunity to provide the information that you need, so we will give you that deadline and then it is up to the Settlement Officer to clearly document that in their history that you didn't receive the SEL, you reached a mutual deadline, they state the deadline, they write everything that's needed, and they document it that way. But it's not mandatory. It's the preferred method, is the 4000 letter.

Again, like Steve said, we have to keep good communication.

>>LISA: I'll just add to that for communication purposes, I do encourage my students to not just rely on a phone call or a phone message to the IRS or to an Appeals Officer and also just send a short fax letter. They, you all have eFaxes and I'm sure that's appreciated, just the paper your file as well.

>> SHAHID: I was going to ask our Appeals panel about how do they handle cases that can go to court compared to the ones that don't, and especially in terms of how we keep an admin file on those?

Is there any difference?

>>MIKE: I'll try to respond to that first. You know, we should follow IRM provisions for each case type, whether it can go to court or not. Realistically, most cases can end up in court anyway, regardless, even if it's not directly through our shop. You know, to be true to our mission to resolve disputes we should fully consider any case within our jurisdiction.

This serves public interest, saves resources -- I mean, I would grant unconsciously we could be guilty at times of not being equally diligent in write ups if we know the case won't face further scrutiny but with that being said, we should be mindful any of our work is subject to further review, even GAO, TIGTA audits, we aren't independent contractors, it is important to remember that.

To the extent there is a perception of unequal treatment, you know, our renewed focus on Taxpayer Experience is our effort to drive this home.

As far as the administrative file, we do have guidelines for what documentation should be included in that file.

It's especially spelled out in CDP cases since those can go to tax court, you know, but that is also part of our training and reminders to staff.

>>STEVE: But I think the perception, Mike, is equivalent hearings are not taken I don't want to say seriously but are not looked at as closely to get the right answer as CDP hearings.

That's what practitioners believe, and I know the IRS position is that's not true at all, but that's the perception that I think is out there.

>>MIKE: Then a perception we should look at, I mean we do have a quality review system that looks at these cases too and we get feedback from that and it's not case specific, so it's shared, it can be shared in more of a training environment and definitely something for us to keep in mind, you know, keep in mind of and look at.

>> ANDY: Steve, are you saying equivalent hearing or maybe something like an offer in compromise because they don't have tax court appeal rights that maybe the tendency is to say well, you know, the taxpayer doesn't have taxpayer, doesn't have tax court appeal rights, I don't really need to work hard to settle this? Is that what you're saying?

>>STEVE: That's the perception. I'm talking even more, though, on equivalent hearings because equivalent hearings you can compare to CDP hearings. They are basically the same for a lot of things other than you don't have tax court rights so I think many practitioners really believe that, whether it's true or not, I know the Appeals position is it's definitely not true but I hear that all the time.

>> ANDY: That's helpful feedback. I appreciate that. That's something we ought to think about is how to make sure that perception is not out there. Thank you for the clarification.

>> SHAHID: We will take one or two questions in another two to three minutes but let me ask I heard this Appeals and our quasi-judicial role.

If one of you, you know, we mentioned a couple of times if one of you Appeals panelists can talk a little bit more about that and also the ex-parte?

>> BRANDI: So, Appeals job is to consider both sides of the case.

We have to consider government side and the taxpayer side.

Of course, the government side is that admin file that we receive with the appeal, and then the taxpayer gets to provide their information and have the conference.

So we do consider all the facts in the case but we consider both sides, just like a judge would if a case was in court, so it's very similar to that.

But we are very careful to review all the information and all the facts and circumstances of the case before we make that decision. Mike, did you want to speak on the ex-parte?

>> MIKE: Yeah. On the ex-parte provision, that is something that was highlighted in IRA98. It is part of our training and something we do spot checks on is we don't have those conversations with collection.

So, if for some reason we send them what we call an ARI to do a little further investigation because you provided new information, we share that with you.

We share that with you and say, you know, you provided new information, we sent it back, they looked at it, here are the results, give you a chance to respond and comment on that.

Other than checking on administerial, administrative item, we don't have those conversations with them.

Again, to kind of put that wall between us, we are taking a fresh look at the case, we are not the originating function.

Our role in tax administration isn't revenue protection, so, you know, we do, we are very mindful of that as we work these cases.

>>STEVE: As a practitioner, I want to say that Appeals does a great job with following the ex-parte rules.

They will bend over backwards and sometimes they will call me because they are afraid it might be ex-parte just to get my permission to do something so that is certainly something that Appeals has knocked it out of the park with.

>> SHAHID: That's good to know. We do emphasize this a lot. Day one the moment we hire our new hires that's one of the first things that is being grilled into them. Let me ask if we have a question from our audience.

>>LIA: I think I'll ask this to the external panelists because again going to perception, I think it would be good for you to share with us how you use that time once you have requested the appeal.

So, I think I'd like to hear you talk about how you prepare your clients at that time that you file the appeal request.

Do you find you are coaching them through the process about what they need to gather and make sure they are ready for when the contact comes or do you find it is like, look, it is going to be a year and go to Florida and you will be given a ton of time to gather once you get there?

So maybe put your broad hat on and think about how do you interact and prepare your taxpayers given they've got a bit of time to gather their things?

>>STEVE: Lia, I give them a fake deadline and then when they don't meet that, I give them another fake deadline and then another one and I hope I don't get it the day before or day of because there is nothing more embarrassing than not giving the Appeals Officer everything at the time of the hearing.

Or even sending it to them that morning but we do everything we can to start at that point.

I even tell my clients, you know, keep bank statement, all your financials, keep them in an envelope in case I need it but I ask them immediately to get me everything and we just stay on top of them and that's the best we can do.

There does come a point, because there are cases, we care more about the case than our client, that we have to just tell them, and we have to tell Appeals, I can't stand in your way anymore.

I can't give you what you need, and I hate to do that. That's a last resort, but that's what we do. It's kind of up to us to stay on our clients because one of the reasons they kind of gotten themselves into this is they are not very good at this and it's up to us to kind of baby-sit them.

>> SHAHID: Let's hear from Lisa, knowing that the low-income tax clinics deal with I think different set of challenges. You mentioned earlier -- >> LISA: Yeah, we certainly deal with a different set of circumstances, although I'll say across the board, tax controversy clients tend to be less organized individuals and less able or willing to keep records, if you will.

I mean, our clients are sometimes transient. They move a lot. Their records are not with them but we do give them fake deadlines, like Steve mentioned.

My students are encouraged to give deadlines but my students, I'm an academic clinic, too, I am still teaching them as well so there's some time delay, right, built into that and teaching the students to teach the clients to give us what we need on time.

We offer to have them come in or sit at a computer with a student and print out their bank statements for them. Oftentimes they don't access these things routinely.

They don't, even though they are online, they don't access, you know, their bank statements are available online, they are not getting them in the mail but they are still not looking at them online or they have never accessed them before.

Before we go in with them. So, it is a challenge. Fake deadlines, we also have -- we have a last chance letter too for our clients. (laughing)

>> SHAHID: That’s Good to know. Steven?

>> STEVEN: If I am filing a CDP hearing request, the first thing I do after I’ve sent it by certified mail is I give the client the 433 form to fill out. I go over with them how to fill it out, the importance of being truthful and candid, and, you know, everything belongs disclosed, everything must be disclosed. And that's a process that will take the client several months sometimes to get through, you know. I coach them along on how to adequately disclose something.

I tend to footnote disclose everything and that's on the 433.

I have the client do what I imagine the Settlement Officers is going to do. I have them pull a credit report on themselves and share it with me so that I can make sure that they have adequately disclosed every credit card, every loan that they might owe money on and I want to understand their financial position better than the Settlement Officer will understand their financial position because for me there is nothing more embarrassing than being blindsided.

>> SHAHID: Thank you. Lia, anything?

>> LIA: The quickest follow-up to that, and maybe one of you can take this is the experience in compliance they have had before they get to us. The focus here today is really the Appeals experience, obviously, but, you know, if there's been a request for financial information before they've gotten here but your clients haven't submitted it, is that really a factor of just a complexity of, or is it just a variety of reasons that the compliance function can't seem to get that issue resolved such that you feel that you have to provide all the documents to us?

Sometimes we feel like we're the first ones seeing all this stuff when it really seems like if that interaction had been successful at the first, at the start with compliance, we wouldn't have to do so much on our end, again, kind of the original reviewer.

So, maybe just speak to that as best you can. Again, I'll let anyone take it that might have some passion in this space.

>>STEVEN: I think often clients, if they have interacted with compliance on their own, they've gotten off on a bad foot with the revenue officer.

Revenue officers are not always warm and fuzzy. They don't always make a taxpayer feel that the circumstances are going to be listened to. Revenue officers tends to be busy people who just want to collect money and not everybody responds well to that.

So I think sometimes once the revenue officer has thrown up his other her hands and issued the appropriate 1058 letter or whatever letter they are using to elevate the case, that's when I get to step in or that's when I become aware that there's a situation and then I do my best to bring things back to a reasonable, you know, let's talk about this discussion.

>> STEVE: You know, the challenge is revenue officer gets on the case, immediately sends a final notice of intent levy, we request a collection due process hearing.

They really haven't done anything else on the case and my strategy, especially since AJAC because that's been great to stopping it from going right to Appeals and I will give the revenue officer all the financials and I want two bites of the apple and maybe I can resolve the case to the revenue officer that they don't have to send to Appeals and if they can't I won't withdraw the appeal because I want that right to have a collection due process hearing.

The only exception to that would be a case where it is going to be an offer in compromise then they may as well send it over to appeal because we can do the offer through Appeals but cooperation with revenue officer is key because if we don't and they send it to Appeals will just going to ask for -- we are just stalling. We don't want to stall. We want to get the case resolved.

>> LISA: I'll just add, for our clientele, we find that I really, we try to make a connection with our clients, obviously, so that we can judge whether or not they are able to even fill out a 433 on their own.

I would estimate that at least 80% of my clients could not and they just are unable to understand the form, to understand what's needed for the form. Sometimes there's language and literacy issue for our clientele, right?

Probably 30% of my clients are non-English speakers so we often have to go in and fill out the 433 with them and sit them down and go by hand, do a public records search, pull their credit report for them, if they have credit, right?

And just get it all. That's time consuming. It's very time consuming.

So -- and often they are not coming to us until they have received that final notice of intent to levy and it's day 29 of requesting a CDP hearing.

So often times we are told by Appeals that we only get an equivalent hearing even though we have mailed it in on time, right, because they have not looked at the envelope.

>> LIA: Yeah, great discussion. Thanks for those, that that discussion around that. Shahid, I think Andy had one item to quick mention and that might get us through some of the questions we’ve received, I will throw it to Andy?

>> ANDY: I'm really enjoying listening to the panel here. I think it is a great discussion there is a lot of good information being shared. I would say there is a lot of good information being shared in the text chat too Shahid from our Settlement Officers. They are listening to what the panel is saying and saying could we change a process to do this?

A lot of comments on the communication front.

Could we put this in the letter, sort of like what Lisa was saying, add a few sentences to this letter, good comments.

Folks commenting on an initiative. We are pushing here in Appeals, taxpayer digital communication.

This I view as the Holy Grail of communication, that we can communicate without paper letter back and forth between the party but a portal where both sides have access, that's ultimately, I think the goal longer term and encourage our Settlement Officers to offer that to taxpayers and practitioners and I encourage practitioners to take us up on that offer and I think that will facilitate communication. I don't want to dwell anymore, Shahid, because it's such a great discussion, I want to get it back to you and panelists.

>> SHAHID: Thank you Thank you. An excellent point, and I encourage our audience to continue to use the text chat feature and keep sending us your feedback, we will compile all that and some of the suggestions Andy just mentioned, that's what the intent is. So, let's switch gears a little to we have had our conference.

Now, if one of our Appeals panelists could walk us through the process and the timeframes once the closing letter is issued to when a case actually gets back to compliance?

>> BRANDI: Once the case is completed, it does go back to our processing unit over in APS.

For CAP cases, they generally close those on the same day or the day after the case was closed because we can send those right back to collection electronically.

For equivalency hearing or trust fund cases, under normal circumstances, it would take 30 to 45 days to close those, OICs and withdrawals can be closed quickly but other cases do take a bit more time, and that's because we have a certain number of systemic updates that have to be completed in a specific order.

So, for instance, for CDP cases we do issue that NOD and after we do that, we have to wait 60 days and that's called the default timeframe so what that is is the time that the taxpayer has to petition the court and then also the time for us to determine if they did petition the court before we can proceed with inputting their collection alternative like an installment agreement.

But again, those collection installments, the collection alternative agreement do take a little bit of time because we do have to put them in and the systemic updates have to be done in a specific order. So, under normal circumstances, that whole process would take about 75 or 90 days.

However, we have been greatly impacted by the pandemic in this area and it is taking longer than that.

It is something we are aware of and that we are trying to resolve now but part of the issue that happened with us this year was the tax court got behind on their mail and we had to stop defaulting CDPs because we weren't sure if the taxpayer had actually petitioned court.

There is no way for us to know until they got through the mail delay. As they processed their mail, we processed out those cases as fast as we could and then we have also been recently affected by losing a good number of people from our processing unit that were selected to go back over to accounts management to help with the backlog of tax returns over there.

At this time, it is taking a bit longer to get those cases back out to collection and to get those installment agreements going.

But like I said, it is something that overall, we are looking at and trying to come up with some new efficiencies and ways to get those closed quicker.

>> SHAHID: You received the decision from Appeals now, you know, it's filed, decision, you get NOD or decision letter and you don't agree with that. You disagree with the conclusion that's been reached.

How do you approach that situation? Steven is smiling, so I'll give him first go and then Steve and Lisa.

>> STEVEN: I got admitted to the tax court for this reason.

So that when necessary, and you posed the question as I don't agree with this, you know, I talk to the client and make sure that the client's comfortable with me doing a petition.

I explain that the best we can hope for in a petition to the tax court is a remand where we get to go back to Appeals to get a do over and, you know, we only have a short amount of time to file a tax court petition, we only have 30 days and those 30 days go by quickly.

So the client makes the decision and then I write the petition.

And of course I want to make sure that I've got all my ducks in a row, meaning the administrative record is clear from my perspective.

This is, you know, one of my pet peeves would be very very very very helpful if before the case was actually closed out if the Appeals Settlement Officer and I could agree as to what's in the administrative record.

That would be really helpful; otherwise, we have to wait until counsel gets the case and then counsel will submit the administrative record for certification and then there may be a surprise, a nasty surprise. Then I find that I have to argue that the administrative record is wrong or is incomplete. So, I think that would be a process, if that were put into place, that can save some time downstream and save some disputes.

>> SHAHID: Let me ask Appeals to just comment on the remands and how do we handle remands before I go to Steve and Lisa on that same topic.

>> MIKE: The remand will come back to us with a due date that the court usually sets a date that they want a response.

Counsel can sometimes get an extension, but there's usually a deadline for us to take some action.

The action is normally to have a, what we call a supplemental hearing.

So, we usually get, in addition to the Court's order, we usually get a memo from counsel that kind of outlined the parameters of what should be considered at that remand hearing.

So, we get those back pretty quickly. The remand hearing, they may be asking for a new employee, they might ask for it to be worked at a new office or for a Face-to-Face conference be granted if that was the issue for an offer maybe to be reconsidered so we try to take those actions timely.

Interact with the practitioner, the taxpayer to meet the Court's order and we prepare a supplemental notice of determination and that determination, you know, the manager makes sure it's in compliance with that memo we get from counsel.

Counsel makes sure it's adequate and then it's issued and filed with the court.

>> SHAHID: Steve?

>> STEVE: Abuse of discretion cases are very difficult because if we don't agree with Appeals and go to tax court we don't go in front of the judge and the judge goes boy you are right you are entitled to an offer in compromise. The best we can get is the judge says well, the Appeals Officer had discretion, which means when you have discretion, you can kind of make a decision based on what you think is right. And they actually abuse that discretion, which is very difficult to do. The judge, if the judge says well, I think the Appeals Officer made a mistake, that's not necessarily grounds to remand the case so it has to actually be an abusive discretion to get remanded and then go back to Appeals and here in Florida counsel is slow to do that.

Counsel doesn't want to do it. Fortunately, in Florida where most of my cases are there's really very little if at all abuse of discretion because we have such great Settlement Officers but in other places sometimes I'll get a case, not often, where the, I believe that the Settlement Officer abused the discretion and I have to take it to the next level. But for the most part, I don't believe this is a major problem.

95% of my tax court cases are from audits, or Innocent Spouse, not from CDP cases.

>> SHAHID: Lisa?

>> LISA: Yeah I agree with Steve, probably 95% of my cases are from audits or Innocent Spouse cases and not typically an appeal of a CDP determination. Sometimes clients come to us after they have already filed a tax court petition after having a CDP hearing but often times we're looking at what did you submit during that CDP hearing and finding that the client did not give the Appeals Officer what they needed to make a determination in that context so I, it's rare that I see an abuse of discretion.

We have really good Collection Appeals Officers as well in Connecticut.

>> SHAHID: Let me ask our Appeals panelists about when do we reopen a case, what the process is and does it vary from different workstreams?

>> MIKE: I’ll just go by workstream, we can reopen an offer case but that does require the approval by the respect of Appeals and collection executives because of jurisdictional issues under the code and the circumstances where we would reopen typically if we, you know, set an unreasonably short deadline, if we made a significant computational error, if the taxpayer maybe failed to respond and we later learn they had an emergency or they actually had responded and we didn't get it, we missed it. For CAP case, we could reopen normally here would be based on a dissent by collection but if we did reopen that we would share collections, facts and arguments with the taxpayer for comment first.

In my experience, reopening a case is rare but it does happen.

For CDP, we are more limited and we can only amend or revise the notice of determination within the 30-day timeframe to petition the court and only if it's clearly an error and otherwise we can only reconsider a CDP case, if the taxpayer petitions the court and the case is remanded as we discussed.

>> SHAHID: I do want to just spend a little time asking about the post Appeals mediation if Appeals -- I know we have other tools in our tool kit and I think that's one of the least used, probably, so also a pitch for post Appeals mediation, if one of you Appeals panelists can quickly chat a little about that?

>> STEVE: I've done post-Appeals mediation, but on audit cases.

I have not done one on CDP. Every time I think I'm about to do one the case gets resolved.

>> SHAHID: That's always a good sign too. Appeals, anything to add?

>>MIKE: On post-Appeals mediation, keeping in mind the time so we do have post-Appeals mediation for collection cases, not for CDP but we have it for certain offer and trust fund cases.

That would happen at the conclusion of the appeal but prior to the case being closed for an offer we could mediate the value of assets, the dissipated assets, the expense standards, interest and assets, the future income, shared expenses, or other factual determinations by that, maybe whether a contribution to an IRA is mandatory.

We can't use post-Appeals mediation in an offer for any issue that's designated for litigation.

If an issue is not consistent with sound tax administration, an example of that would be that even if we agreed with the disputed issue, the outcome would be unchanged.

We don't consider frivolous issues or where the taxpayer didn't act in good faith so in other words, they, the taxpayer can't refuse to provide information that we need, you know, that we feel we need to make a decision and then ask for mediation.

So, for TFRP, we can mediate whether a person was required to collect, account for, or pay over, or whether responsible person is willful in those acts and whether any payments were designated.

So, and they have the same limitations on TFRP designated for litigation, not consistent with sound tax administration, the frivolous issues and not acting in good faith so the post Appeals mediation should be requested by the taxpayer and agreed to by Appeals if it's denied by Appeals it can't be reviewed any further.

If it is granted, there's an agreement to mediate that sign and an Appeals mediator is assigned.

>> SHAHID: So, you know, a lot of good discussion, right? I wish we had another hour.

We would probably, you know, go for two hours if we had the time.

I do think there are some takeaways for us Appeals, you know, and also, I think our compliance folks as well. We do routinely, the executives especially chat with SBSE folks.

So Lisa, one of the issues you raised in terms of what it is, why is it taking so long for them to send us the cases to start with, I think we will take some of those back but I also think there are some success stories here too, hearing from you guys, like almost 95% of the cases, you know, in collection get resolved.

Also talking about how the AJAC, where all three of you mentioned that how effectively it is being utilized.

We do take pride in our -- it is not just in our title but we really do take pride being independent and I think it's real important for us to know that and hear that from you that how you view that independence to be and I can say that what we heard from you today in this session is that I think we are living up to that standard of being independent, that quasi-judicial role that we have claiming that yes we have certain areas that we can definitely find some improvements and work towards those, but I think it was a really good conversation.

Thank you all, you know, for giving us the time and also our audience for being with us and staying engaged.

I know the text chat was probably on fire, and Andy and Lia would know better on that, but I want to turn it over to Andy for some closing remarks here.

>> ANDY: I appreciate it, Shahid. Thank you all, and particularly to our outside practitioners.

I really was struck by Lisa's comments about the unique nature of the taxpayers that her clinic works with and also her comments about how some of our letters are written.

I know we have a Taxpayer Experience officer we have appointed here in Appeals who is doing exactly that, looking through letters and seeing what we say here and Steven Jager’s comments about administrative record struck me as from our side too I will look attacks court decisions at 3:00 or so each day when they come out and look for CDP cases and are we in our case history, are we as Appeals Officers, Settlement Officers, adequately documenting what we did there?

I think that is a corollary to Steven's comments about building the administrative record from his side.

And I appreciate Steve Klitzner’s number one, his reference to holding Settlement Officers to a higher standard than revenue officers. That makes me think, and I think it's a great point and also value his comments about the CAP and installment agreements. I think this with was a great way to get feedback from you as practitioners and we recently updated our customer survey process and every work that gets worked in Appeals, a satisfaction survey is provided when a case is closed.

And I really encourage practitioners to consider responding to that survey and giving us the kind of feedback that you all have given us here today.

It is helpful to us as Appeals in improving our processes, you know, making policy changes, et cetera.

Again, Lisa, Steve, Steven, thank you for being here.

Our Appeals panelists, Mike, Brandi, Rhonda, appreciate your efforts here.

Shahid did a wonderful job. Thank you for you all in the audience, Settlement Officers, Collection, Appeals, for all that joined, have a great rest of your day. Good-bye, everyone!

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