A hearing is scheduled for September 11, 2023 for interested persons and organizations to provide testimony on proposed regulations on the timing and approval process for penalties. Section 6751(b) provides that:
No penalty under this title shall be assessed unless the initial determination of such assessment is personally approved (in writing) by the immediate supervisor of the individual making such determination or such higher level official as the Secretary may designate.
The timing of when the approval is required by Section 6751(b) has been the subject of significant litigation. The Second Circuit in Chai v. Commissioner concluded that Congress enacted section 6751(b) to “prevent IRS agents from threatening unjustified penalties to encourage taxpayers to settle.” This has caused a lot of litigation in both the Tax Court and U.S. District Courts such that there are currently two different standards on timing of when such supervisory approval is required. If supervisory approval is to meet the goal of not being used as an unfair “bargaining chip” it must be required before such unwanted behavior can occur. Many groups have submitted comments asking for supervisory approval to be done earlier in the examination process than the proposed regulations require and that approval be done by a direct supervisor and not just anyone with penalty approval rights within the IRS.