The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Office of Chief Counsel hosted its first National Virtual Settlement Month in March 2021, with the authority calling the results “impressive” with almost 150 Tax Court cases resolved.
Settlement Days events work to resolve cases in the United States Tax Court by providing taxpayers who are not represented by counsel the opportunity to receive free tax advice from Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs), American Bar Association (ABA) volunteer attorneys and other pro bono organizations.
During the Office of Chief Counsel’s first National Virtual Settlement Month, Virtual Settlement Days events were held in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with many held in cities that had not recently hosted a Settlement Days event.
Nearly 240 taxpayers met with Chief Counsel employees and pro bono organizations, leading to settlements in 148 Tax Court cases. Those who did not get their cases resolved had the opportunity to obtain free legal advice and better understand their cases and the process of litigating in the Tax Court.
LITC representatives and ABA volunteer attorneys provided free legal advice, assisting taxpayers outside their regular service areas as needed. At many events, taxpayers were also able to discuss payment options with IRS Collection employees. Taxpayers were also able to consult Taxpayer Advocate Service employees about unrelated tax matters not before the Tax Court.
IRS commissioner Chuck Rettig said: “The March Settlement Days campaign yielded great results with well over half of participating taxpayers settling their cases on a basis agreeable to them without having to represent themselves in Tax Court. These strong results could not be achieved without the dedication and support of our partner groups–the LITCs, ABA and other pro bono organizations.
“Unrepresented taxpayers with cases in Tax Court should strongly consider seeking assistance at a settlement day event when given the chance. It provides taxpayers a fair way to resolve their cases on a basis they agree with rather than taking their chances in court,” Rettig noted.
Virtual Settlement Days events were first announced in May 2020 amid the pandemic. Before March 2021, more than 260 taxpayers resolved their Tax Court cases during a Virtual Settlement Days event, avoiding the need for over 260 trials. The Office of Chief Counsel plans to continue Virtual Settlement Days events together with face-to-face options when circumstances permit.