The IRS Office of Chief Counsel has embarked on its most far-reaching Settlement Days program by declaring the month of March 2021 as National Settlement Month. This program builds upon the success achieved from last year’s many settlement day events while being shifted to virtual format due to the pandemic. Virtual Settlement Day (VSD) events will be conducted across the country and will serve taxpayers in all 50 states and the District of Colombia.
Settlement Day events are coordinated efforts to resolve cases in the U.S. Tax Court by providing taxpayers who are not represented by counsel with the opportunity to receive free tax advice from Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs), American Bar Association (ABA) volunteer attorneys, and other pro bono organizations. Taxpayers can also discuss their Tax Court cases and related tax issues with members of the Office of Chief Counsel, the IRS Independent Office of Appeals and IRS Collection representatives. These communications can aid in reaching a settlement by providing taxpayers with a better understanding of what is needed to support their case.
The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) employees also participate in VSDs to assist taxpayers with tax issues attributable to non-docketed years. Local Taxpayer Advocates and their staff can work with and inform taxpayers about how TAS may be able to assist with other unresolved tax matters, or to provide further assistance after the Tax Court matter is concluded. IRS Collection personnel will be available to discuss potential payment alternatives if a settlement is reached. For those who choose to take their cases to court, the VSD process can also give a better understanding of what information taxpayers need to present to the court to be successful.
Following its first announcement of virtual settlement days in May last year, the Chief Counsel and LITCs have successfully used VSD events to help more than 259 taxpayer resolve Tax Court cases without having to go to trial.
Registration and Information
The IRS proactively identifies and reaches out to taxpayers with Tax Court cases which appear most suitable for this settlement day approach, and invites them attend VSD events. The IRS also generally encourages taxpayers with active Tax Court cases to contact the assigned Chief Counsel attorney or paralegal about participating in the March VSD events.
This year, the IRS has included the following locations where these events have never been offered: Albuquerque, Billings, Buffalo, Cheyenne, Cleveland, Denver, Des Moines, Indianapolis, Little Rock, Milwaukee, Nashville, Peoria, Omaha, Reno, Sacramento, San Diego and San Jose.
LITCs can contact their local Chief Counsel offices about the event in their area. If additional information is needed, individuals can reach out to Chief Counsel’s Settlement Day Cadre, or contact Sarah Sexton Martinez at (312) 368-8604. Pro bono volunteers are encouraged to contact Meg Newman (Megan.Newman@americanbar.org) with the American Bar Association Tax Section.