Facing an audit of one’s federal tax returns is rarely a pleasant experience and is more often than not downright stressful.

To make matters worse, an Illinois resident may find at the end of an audit that the IRS believes he or she owes a lot of additional money in taxes, as well as interest and penalties on top of those back taxes.

Assuming that trying to convince the examiners of one’s position does not help matters, a Chicago-area resident may wonder about his or her options with respect to continuing to deal with the IRS. Although a couple of options lead to the courthouse, going to court is both expensive and risky since, even if someone thinks they are right, a judge can still hold against them.

For almost 100 years, the IRS has offered an alternative short of going to court through its Office of Appeals. This option might not be available in all cases, but when it is, it gives a taxpayer the chance to have their position reviewed by a fresh set of eyes. Although the staff of the Office of Appeals are IRS employees, they pride themselves on their independence and have processes in place to ensure that they remain independent decision makers.

Before appealing, it is very important that, while an audit is ongoing, the taxpayer give every piece of documentation to the examiner conducting the audit and also raise the arguments he or she has with the examiner. Not doing so can mean an appeal will not be available.

Incidentally, the Office also runs mediation programs and offers other services that foster the quick and relatively stress-free resolution to issues.

Still, even though the Office is designed with efficiency and the needs of the taxpayer in mind, an Illinois taxpayer who is looking to appeal an audit may want the help of an experienced tax attorney.