May 7, 2020

IRS Offers Virtual Settlement Opportunities Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Holland & Knight Alert
Chad M. Vanderhoef | James Dawson

The U.S. Tax Court issued four separate releases in a 13-day span (March 11-23) canceling upcoming trial sessions across the country through the end of June and closing the Tax Court indefinitely in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Despite the cancellations and closures, the Court instructed taxpayers and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to continue to exchange information and attempt to resolve cases.

Accordingly, on May 5, 2020, the IRS Office of Chief Counsel announced its Settlement Days program will continue on a virtual basis to enable pro se taxpayers to work toward case resolution despite continued stay-at-home orders in many jurisdictions. The Settlement Days program is designed to aid pro se taxpayers by providing free assistance in discussing settlement of their tax disputes; thereby avoiding further litigation or trial. The unrepresented taxpayers will have the opportunity to receive free advice and possible representation from Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITC) or other pro bono organizations. The virtual discussions allow the parties to accomplish the Tax Court's goals by providing the opportunity to settle cases remotely.

The Chief Counsel's Office has scheduled two Virtual Settlement Days events in May for cases docketed on the Detroit and Atlanta Tax Court trial sessions. More than 100 pro se petitioners have been invited to the sessions to meet with IRS counsel via video conferencing. The taxpayers will have an opportunity to speak with LITC representatives prior to meeting with IRS counsel and if the taxpayer desires, have the LITC representative join the meeting. Taxpayers with cases currently at the IRS Appeals level have not been invited to the Detroit or Atlanta sessions, but the IRS encourages those taxpayers to discuss case resolution with their assigned Appeals Officer through virtual conferences.

The Detroit event is scheduled for May 9, 2020, while the Atlanta event will be held May 21, 2020, with the possibility of being extended over a period of several days to accommodate taxpayers' schedules. The IRS noted that it anticipates Virtual Settlement Days becoming part of its overall Settlement Days efforts even after this pandemic is over and stay-at-home orders are lifted.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that the situation surrounding COVID-19 is evolving and that the subject matter discussed in these publications may change on a daily basis. Please contact your responsible Holland & Knight lawyer or the author of this alert for timely advice.

Information contained in this alert is for the general education and knowledge of our readers. It is not designed to be, and should not be used as, the sole source of information when analyzing and resolving a legal problem. Moreover, the laws of each jurisdiction are different and are constantly changing. If you have specific questions regarding a particular fact situation, we urge you to consult competent legal counsel.

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