by Michael Lodge
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The Internal Revenue Service has created a new Fast Track Mediation program to resolve collection cases and issues more quickly for taxpayers with outstanding tax debts.
Revenue Procedure 2016-57, issued by the IRS last week, replaces the IRS’s Fast Track Mediation procedure with a new program, Fast Track Mediation—Collection. The FTMC program provides taxpayers who had cases in the IRS’s Small Business/Self-Employed division with an opportunity to resolve certain offer-in-compromise and trust fund recovery penalty issues and cases worked on by the IRS’s Collection function on an expedited basis, with an Office of Appeals mediator acting as a neutral party.
The IRS began testing Fast Track Mediation procedures in 2000 for taxpayers in the SB/SE division whose cases were being worked on in the Examination or Collection operating units. The FTM procedure allowed taxpayers to expedite their cases by going through an Appeals meditator acting as a third party. The IRS is now replacing the FTM program with the FTMC program because taxpayer requests for the program have been infrequent ever since it was introduced, particularly after the IRS expanded a similar program known as Fast Track Settlement nationwide in 2013.
The Fast Track Settlement program, or FTS, is only available to taxpayers whose cases are being handled by the Examination unit, however, and it does not provide an expedited Appeals alternative dispute resolution opportunity for taxpayers whose cases are in Collection. Rather than eliminate the FTM program completely, the IRS has decided to replace it with the FTMC program to ensure taxpayers in Collection can still get an early opportunity for expedited resolution of their cases via mediation. But it is limited to certain offer-in-compromise and trust fund recovery penalty issues and cases that are worked on by the Collection unit. Other alternative dispute resolution programs, such as FTS, will remain available to taxpayers whose cases are being worked on in the Examination unit.
Like the older FTM program, the new FTMC program gives taxpayers the opportunity to resolve certain case and issue disputes on an expedited basis with an Appeals mediator acting as a neutral party. The Appeals mediator in the new FTMC program, as in the older FTM program, does not have settlement authority and cannot render a decision on any issue in dispute.
Although Collection is an operating unit of the IRS’s SB/SE division, all kinds of collection cases, regardless of the type of taxpayer, are handled by Collection. Thus, any type of taxpayer can participate in the FTMC program, not just small businesses and self-employed taxpayers, provided the taxpayer meets the eligibility requirements set forth in the revenue procedure and the taxpayer’s case is being worked on in the Collection function.