Preparing for a Successful Mediation


Mediation works only if the disputing parties can agree to an outcome. Since both parties come to the mediation with an effective veto over its outcome, each party has an incentive to find a solution that meets the needs (not desires) of the other party. Mediation doesn’t work for anybody unless it works for everybody.

To maximize the benefits of mediation, all participants should follow these principles:

  • Decision-makers must be present.
  • Participants should have a sincere desire to resolve the dispute, not just want it to go away.
  • It is important for each party to know and understand – but not necessarily agree with – the other party’s concerns.
  • Participants must be open to new ideas for resolution.
  • Parties should weigh the prospects of continued appeal and litigation costs realistically.

The following questions are designed to help you think broadly about your tax dispute. Although you will not have to answer these specific questions during mediation, please give them serious, private consideration.

  1. As you think back on the dispute, what is the core of the matter for you?
  2. How do you think the facts, circumstances and events that gave rise to the dispute look to the other party? What would you likely do if you were in their shoes, and what might help you understand their perspective better?
  3. Are there factors beyond the control of the parties that contributed to the dispute?
  4. What might you do differently if you had the opportunity to start over?
  5. What would it be like to have this dispute over?
  6. What would it be like to have the case proceed to litigation and end unfavorably?
  7. What would a fair resolution of the dispute look like to you?

The IRS Independent Office of Appeals looks forward to helping you resolve your tax dispute.

For more information visit Appeals Fast Track.