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New procedure for IRS informal technical advice.

A recent IRS National Office reorganization gives examining agents and IRS appeals officers an opportunity to get IRs National Office advice without going through the usual technical advice memorandum (TAM) procedures.

In the reorganization, tax litigation attorneys were merged with the existing technical structure. The old technical structure included attorneys responsible for rulings, regulations and TAMs. Under the new structure, the tax litigation attorneys will be engaged in a function called "field services." One purpose of this function is to give IRS examining agents and appeals officers an opportunity to informally seek the advice of attorneys experienced in looking at tax cases from the standpoint of potential litigation.

Many practitioners object to the introduction of litigation specialists to the examination process. This is not new, however, and has long been routine in the large case program. Since it is unlikely to go away, practitioners should be aware of this new informal process for a number of reasons.

First, it can be used to the practitioner's advantage when requesting that the agent or appeals officer seek IRS National Office technical advice, and the agent or officer objects to the potential work and delay caused by the request.

Second, if the agent or appeals officer has sought and obtained advice, it is important to know that there is no requirement that the agent or appeals officer advise the taxpayer (or his representative) that the advice has been sought or obtained. There also appears to be no requirement that the agent or appeals officer follow the informal recommendation of the IRs National Office field services group. Accordingly, while the IRS National Office would have rendered informal advice favorable to the taxpayer, unless the practitioner asks for it, he might not find out about it.

Third, as presently structured, the rendering of informal advice by the field services attorneys does not preclude the requesting of formal National Office technical advice. This means that if the informal advice was favorable, and the agent or appeals officer does not want to follow it, the practitioner can ask the agent or appeals officer to formally request IRS National Office technical advice, which is binding on the Service if favorable to the taxpayer. If the informal advice was unfavorable, the agent or appeals officer may be asked to formally requested IRS National Office technical advice to give the practitioner the opportunity to persuade the IRS National Office to accept his client's point of view.
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Author:O'Connor, Eileen J.
Publication:The Tax Adviser
Date:Feb 1, 1992
Words:406
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