How to Successfully Negotiate with the IRS

If you want to be successful in the tax resolution business, you need to be a successful negotiator.  I personally represented 2,000 individuals and small businesses spanning a 16-year period and I was a vigorous advocate for my clients.

What skills does a successful negotiator need? This is common sense, but you should know that you attract more bees with honey, than you do with vinegar.  You will accomplish more in your negotiations if you give respect to people you’re dealing with just as you want to be respected.  You do not want to come on too strong in the negotiation process unless you must.  It is best to start the conversation with the knowledge that the process will go  a lot smoother if you treat the revenue officer or IRS ACS agent as you want to be treated.

Now as I stated I was a vigorous advocate for my client.  Especially when I recognized the Revenue Officer did not know what they were doing or was extremely difficult. When I knew I was right I would ask the Revenue Officer for a cite and by that, I mean something that is codified in the law, or a section from the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) or Internal Revenue Code.  Most of the time they were unable to provide one.  When they saw that I knew what to ask for they would back down, and we would have a successful negotiation.

Additionally, there were several key phrases I used that served me well during negotiations.  These phrases made all the difference between a successful outcome versus an unfavorable result. For example, let’s pretend that the Revenue Officer’s name was Joe, I would say, “Hey Joe, would it be utterly ridiculous for you to accept this expense?” That disarmed the Revenue Officer, using the phrase, “utterly ridiculous”.  Do you see how that works?  Instead of jamming my point of view and client’s information down his throat I would say, “Joe, would it be utterly ridiculous if we went this way?”  That puts Joe in the frame of mind to think about what is reasonable and what is utterly ridiculous and since I was proposing something that was reasonable it made Joe think, “I believe we can do that.”

If Joe came back with something that was a compromise I would say, “You know what Joe, that’s great. Show me how WE can do that.”  I would engage him and by using that phrase “show me how WE can do that” it made Joe believe that he was helping me and together we would come up with the final solution.

This is how you get the revenue officer engaged and all of a sudden, it’s a collaborative effort.  It’s not one-sided any longer.

Another phrase I would use when I did not know how the negotiation was going to turn out was, “Hey Joe. Help me. Help me with that question. Help me find a way. You see the taxpayer’s financials.  You see what I’m working with.  Could you help me find a solution to this issue?” When you phrase things to make the Revenue Officer aware that you are actively looking for a solution but do not yet see one, they know that you want to resolve this problem and so do they.  They want to get this case resolved and off their docket. When you say, “You see what I’m working with”, that can cause the Revenue Officer to look and consider the taxpayer’s position so that together you can come up with a final solution that works for your client.

Always remember in negotiations that you will do best by being respectful during the process.  These phrases played a big part in the positive outcomes I achieved for my clients, and I know that they will work for you.  Memorize them and use them the next time you are negotiating with the IRS.

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