IRS shifts authority over tax appeal denials to chief counsel’s office

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Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rettig issued an order Friday transferring authority over denials of requests for tax appeals to the IRS’s Office of Chief Counsel, despite recent legislation creating an independent Office of Appeals at the IRS.

“In a delegation order released today, the IRS Commissioner delegated authority regarding denials of requests to go to Appeals, to officials in the Office of Chief Counsel,” said a statement from the IRS. “This delegation covers taxpayer requests for consideration by the IRS independent Office of Appeals of matters made after a petition has been filed in Tax Court. Because these cases are already docketed and in the jurisdiction of the Tax Court and the IRS Office of Chief Counsel, the order delegates to the Chief Counsel (who may redelegate to the Division Counsel) authority to deny a taxpayer’s request to have the matter referred to Appeals. The order also delegates authority to hear any protest of that denial to the Chief Counsel.”

Congress passed the Taxpayer First Act earlier this year, which was supposed to create an independent Office of Appeals at the IRS (see Trump signs IRS reform bill into law). However, the IRS said the delegation order is consistent with congressional intent behind the enactment of the TFA and section 7803(b)(2)(D) of the Tax Code, which charges the Chief Counsel with the duty to represent the Commissioner in cases before the Tax Court. “This delegation furthers congressional intent by ensuring that withholding of cases will be infrequent and subject to the highest level of oversight within the Office of Chief Counsel,” said the IRS statement.

The Senate confirmed California tax attorney Michael Desmond as chief counsel in February.

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IRS Tax Court Tax-related court cases Charles "Chuck" Rettig