Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests can be helpful to taxpayers in resolving IRS tax problems. We have found FOIA requests to be especially beneficial in appealing the results of an IRS audit or a rejected collection matter.
Benefits of the Freedom of Information Act
FOIA was enacted in 1966, based on the premise that the government should not withhold its information from the public and gives any person the right to access federal agency records or information. FOIA grants you the right to access federal agency records and information regarding your own accounts. Thus, you can use FOIA when you have an open case with the IRS and want to review the information they have gathered relating to your taxes. This information may provide you with a better understanding of the rationale used in assessing additional taxes in an audit or in collection issues such as a rejected offer in compromise or denial of innocent spouse status.
The records received from an IRS FOIA request may include any notes and narrative memoranda prepared by the agent. These items summarize the facts in the case and any legal authority relied upon by the agent and contact they had with other IRS personnel. The FOIA request will also provide you with the agent’s internal work papers, third party documents obtained by the IRS and documents provided by the taxpayer or representative.
You may refer to the IRS FOIA Guide to make a FOIA request to obtain your tax records. While FOIA gives you the right you to access your own records, it’s not a given that the IRS will automatically hand over those records. There are nine possible exemptions and three exclusions that allow the IRS to withhold records. Taxpayers have the right to appeal the denial of a FOIA request both within IRS Appeals Office and the Courts.
A FOIA request must be made in writing to the disclosure office or agent with jurisdiction over the requested records. Our experience has shown that the IRS takes between thirty to ninety days to provide the requested information.
In short, FOIA records give you an important advantage when dealing with the IRS and should be not be overlooked in developing a winning defense in IRS audit and collection issues.
If you think a Freedom of Information Act request can help solve your IRS problems or you require other IRS representation, call today to speak with our tax resolution specialists in either our Boca Raton, Plantation or West Palm Beach offices.