By Jason Bramwell
A national program launched by the IRS on November 6 provides a customer-driven approach to resolving tax disputes at the earliest possible stage in the examination process.
The Fast Track Settlement (FTS) program, which is jointly administered by the IRS Small Business/Self-Employed (SB/SE) Division and the IRS Office of Appeals, was created to help small businesses and self-employed individuals who are under audit examination by the SB/SE.
Modeled after a similar program available to large and midsize businesses with more than $10 million in assets, FTS uses alternative dispute resolution techniques to help taxpayers save time and avoid a formal administrative appeal or lengthy litigation, according to the IRS.
"As a result, audit issues can usually be resolved within sixty days rather than months or years", the IRS stated. "Plus, taxpayers choosing this option lose none of their rights because they still have the right to appeal, even if the FTS process is unsuccessful."
Small businesses and self-employed individuals with tax disputes work directly with IRS representatives from the SB/SE Examination Division and the Office of Appeals to resolve their issues, with a representative from appeals typically serving as mediator.
The IRS noted the taxpayer or IRS examination representative may recommend FTS for eligible cases, usually before a thirty-day letter is issued by the Office of Appeals.
"The goal is to complete cases within sixty days of acceptance of the application in appeals", the IRS stated.
SB/SE originally launched FTS as a pilot program in Chicago, Houston, and St. Paul in September 2006, and the program was expanded to five additional areas, including Philadelphia and San Diego, in December 2007.