Most disputes with the IRS are resolved through the administrative appeals process. The IRS Appeals Office is a separate and independent division of the IRS, and is the only level of appeal provided to taxpayers within the IRS system. Such an appeal must be formally requested in reply to the appropriate IRS notice, issued at a particular stage in the process. Disputes are handled through informal conferences with a designated Appeals Officer, and may be conducted in person, through correspondence, or by telephone. A taxpayer’s success in resolving a dispute through this process is often dictated by how the case is developed during the prior stage in the process – such as during the course of an audit. Therefore, it is critical to engage a qualified and experienced representative as early into the case as possible, in order to set the case up for success at this next level.