On June 13, Suffolk University’s Graduate Programs in Accounting & Taxation and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) hosted a continuing education tax seminar on key changes in IRS policies and practices.

IRS Appeals Officer Richard Sweeney discussed the appeals process and how tax law disputes can be resolved through the IRS without litigation. Sweeney explained that the Office of Appeals reviews the factual and legal uncertainty of each case and has the sole power to evaluate hazards and settle tax disagreements without going to trial.

Additionally, Sweeney noted that the Collection Due Process (CDP) Program allows tax payers to appeal in cases of work liability, tax penalties, denied claims, or innocent spouse relief.

Stakeholder Laison Carl Young discussed the Affordable Care Act, which is designed to improve access to affordable health coverage. The Act includes the tax-free coverage extension for employees’ children until they are 27 years old. It also provides tax relief for health professionals working in underserved areas and offers incentives for small business to provide healthcare insurance to their employees.

Senior Stakeholder Liaison Cheli Rios discussed the International Tax Compact Initiative, which helps strengthen international cooperation with developing countries to fight tax evasion and inappropriate tax practices.

She also highlighted the Identity Theft Initiative, which works toward theft prevention and victim assistance. The initiative helped prevent $1.4 billion in refunds from being erroneously sent to identity thieves in 2011, Rios said.

Another key law that affects tax practitioners is the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, Rios said. The legislation is designed to lower the unemployment rate for U.S. veterans. It expands tax credit for businesses that hire veterans and now includes tax-exempt employers.

Rios also discussed the Fresh Start Initiative, which the IRS expanded in March 2012 to provide new penalty relief to the unemployed and increase the availability of Installment Agreements. She noted that the IRS recently increased the threshold for tax liens from $5,000 to $10,000. Taxpayers can also request a six-month extension for 2011 taxes, and the failure-to-pay penalties are waived if they are submitted by October 15, 2012.