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How do I Handle a Tax Dispute?

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  • Written By: Sandi Johnson
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2016
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Tax disputes arise for a variety of reasons, and each country has its own procedures for disputes regarding income, customs or sales taxes. In many countries, handling a tax dispute starts by filing for an appeal with the corresponding taxing authority. Specific forms or requests typically will be required. Most agencies recommend or require you to supply supporting documentation with the appeal form. Appeal forms are available from each taxing authority, along with submission deadlines and guidelines for the process.

For simple tax dispute cases involving income, the individual or organization is normally well-equipped to manage the dispute. For example, a common and easily managed dispute arises when the government's tax agency decides to disallow a particular deduction. Disputing a tax deduction simply requires asking for an appeal and providing specific documentation to prove the validity of the claim. This could be as easy as providing receipts for business expenses, tuition bills or other documentation. More difficult tax dispute cases might require the help of a trained professional, such as a tax dispute lawyer, or contracting an agency that offers tax dispute resolution services.

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The appeals process for income tax disputes typically begins with filing an appeal with the agency that made the decision you wish to dispute. The agency will be able to tell you how to file the appeal, which typically involves filling out specific forms and providing supporting documentation. Your written appeal often must include information such as the tax years involved, specifically disputed items, the reasons for the dispute and other information. You also might need to cite specific tax laws. Written protests are often best handled by a tax dispute attorney, certified public accountant, or other professional approved.

The tax dispute appeals process also generally includes a conference or hearing where you and an official representative of the taxing agency discuss your dispute. The government agency typically has officials designated to handle disputes, and they review each case and make decisions based on the facts presented. The process generally is informal, with meetings conducted in person, over the phone or even through the mail. When appropriate, these officers can offer tax relief in the form of allowing deductions or making settlement arrangements. If the interested parties cannot reach an agreement, formal court proceedings are the next step, but the government often will attempt to settle cases without the need for expensive and time-consuming court battles.

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