The IRS has 24 months from the date that anOffer in Compromise is received to make its decision. If the IRS does not accept, reject, or return the offer within 24 months, then it is deemed accepted (IRM 126.96.36.199). According to IRS policy, “The timeliness of case actions in an offer investigation is important not only to ensure the efficiency of the process but also is a key component of taxpayer satisfaction” (IRM 188.8.131.52).
But lets face it, the Offer in Compromise process can be lengthy and the IRS has never been very good with taxpayer satisfaction. It routinely takes several months just for the IRS to mark the offer as received and assign it to an Offer Examiner. And that’s only the beginning of the process.
I have never seen the 24-month mandatory acceptance provision come into play. Certainly the responsible IRS employee(s) would be disciplined, if not fired, for letting the 24-month period expire. My problem with the 24-month rule is that it does not have the intended effect. In fact, it seems like it is quite the opposite. An astute IRS representative with a caseload he can barely keep up with will probably delay as long as he can, even though the entire process could easily be completed in 30-60 days.