Most taxpayers believe that they have few, if any, rights when dealing with the IRS. The fact is that the Internal Revenue Code does provide taxpayers several rights. The problem is that these rights are scattered throughout the code and are difficult for taxpayers to find and understand.
Although the Internal Revenue Service adopted the Taxpayer Bill of Rights years ago, has made these rights part of a publication which is sent to every taxpayer who receives a notice from the IRS, and posts them on its website, most taxpayers are still not aware of their rights. So what are a taxpayer’s rights when dealing with the IRS?
1. The Right to be Informed
Taxpayers have the right to a clear explanation of the tax laws and what is needed to comply with these laws. Taxpayers are entitled to clear explanations of IRS procedures, tax forms, instructions, publications, notices and correspondence. Lastly, taxpayers must be informed of IRS decisions regarding their account.
2. The Right to Quality Service
Taxpayers have the right to receive prompt, courteous and professional service when dealing with the IRS. Taxpayers have the right to be spoken to in a manner they can understand and to receive communications which are clear and understandable. If taxpayers find that the service provided is inadequate they have the right to speak to a supervisor.
3. The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax
Taxpayers need only pay the amount of tax, penalties and interest legally due. Taxpayers have the right to have the IRS properly apply all tax payments made.
4. The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard
Taxpayers have the right to object and provide documentation in response to formal actions taken by the IRS and to actions which the IRS proposes to take. Taxpayers have the right to expect the IRS to consider the taxpayers’ timely objections the documentation submitted in response to the IRS’s actions, and to receive a response if the IRS does not agree with the taxpayers’ position.
5. The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum
Taxpayers have the right to a fair and impartial administrative appeal of most (but not all) IRS decisions and the right to receive the decision of the Appeals Division in writing. In certain situations taxpayers have the right to take their case to court.
6. The Right to Finality
Taxpayers have the right to know the time they have to challenge the IRS’s position, the time the IRS has to audit a tax return and the time the IRS has to collect a debt. Taxpayers have the right to know when the IRS has completed an audit.
7. The Right to Privacy
Taxpayers have the right to expect that any IRS examination or enforcement action will comply with the law and that such actions will respect due process rights, including search and seizure protections. In some instances, taxpayers have the right to collection due process hearings before property is seized by the IRS.
8. The Right to Confidentiality
Taxpayers have the right to expect that information they provide to the IRS will not be disclosed to anyone unless the disclosure is authorized by the taxpayer or by law. Taxpayers also have the right to expect that appropriate action will be taken for unauthorized use or disclosure of taxpayer return information.
9. The Right to Retain Representation
Taxpayers have the right to retain a representative to represent them before the IRS.
10. The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System
Taxpayers have the right to expect that facts and circumstances that might affect their underlying liabilities, ability to pay, or ability to provide information timely will be taken into consideration. Taxpayers also have the right to receive assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate if they are experiencing financial difficulty or if the IRS has not resolved their tax issues properly and timely through normal channels.