When a person pays their fair share of taxes, there is a certain expectation that they be treated with an appropriate level of dignity and respect. That is where the Taxpayer Bill of Rights comes in, a list of various fundamental rights that anyone working with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is guaranteed. But what does the Taxpayer Bill of Rights even entail?
Table of Contents
Understanding the Taxpayer Bill of Rights
The Right to Be Informed
Basically, the IRS is obligated to provide you the means by which to comply with tax laws and to explain this in a clear and concise way. They also have to make sure you are aware of any decisions made regarding your tax accounts, and why those decisions were made.
The Right to Quality Service
This should come as no surprise, but a taxpayer is obligated to receive quality service. This entails that you receive accurate information and correspondence, as well as that correspondence being prompt, professional, and courteous. If service is poor, you must also have an avenue to speak to a supervisor about it.
The Right to Pay Only as Much as You Owe
Much like how the IRS expects you to pay no less than what you owe, you have the right to pay only as much as you owe. Determining that you are in compliance with the IRS is one of the issues a tax attorney can help you with. The IRS may be a powerful organization, but if they make a mistake, you should not have to be punished for it.
The Right to Challenge the IRS’ Positions
At times, the IRS may take or propose actions that you believe are not appropriate. As such, you can object to these actions. You may not necessarily have a successful objection, but no matter what, they must consider your objections in a timely manner, including a timely response in the event that they disagree with your objection.
The Right to Appeal the IRS’ Decisions in an Independent Forum
Appealing a decision by the IRS may seem like an intimidating process, but the nice thing about it is that the IRS is not the one determining whether your appeal is valid or not. You are entitled to have your appeal presented to an independent forum, which can determine whether or not a decision, such as a penalty, are appropriate. They also may be entitled to take their issue to court.
The Right to Finality
Taxpayers are entitled to understand the timeframes they have to challenge the IRS’ actions, as well as the timeframes available for the IRS to perform an audit on a tax year or collect any debt. This is to ensure that the IRS cannot pull the rug out from under you. Furthermore, you have to be informed of when the audit is finished.
The Right to Privacy
This should go without saying, but taxpayers have an expectation that if the IRS performs an inquiry or an enforcement action, any information they seek or obtain must be within legal purview. Furthermore, whatever information is gathered as part of their investigation goes no further than the law or taxpayer allows. You have the right to due process, ensuring that any search and seizure of information is not unreasonable.
The Right to Retain Representation
Dealing with the IRS can be a potentially frustrating thing, and as such, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights ensures that you can retain a representative to work with the IRS in your stead. This representation may come in the form of a tax lawyer. However, if they cannot afford such representation, they are entitled to receive representation from a low-income taxpayer clinic.
The Right to Confidentiality
Any information that is provided to the IRS is expected to have a certain degree of confidentiality, at least as far as the law and/or the taxpayer allows. If this degree of confidentiality is violated, the taxpayer has an expectation that anyone who participated in said violation receive appropriate action.
The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System
The final right afforded to taxpayers under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights is a fair and just tax system. That is, they have the right to expect to be treated just like everyone else by the IRS. The IRS must look at all facts and circumstances that may impact a taxpayer’s ability to pay what they owe or provide information in a timely manner. If assistance is required to fulfill their obligations as a taxpayer, a person may seek it from the Taxpayer Advocate Service. This may be required if they are struggling with financial difficulties or if the IRS has done an inadequate job of providing them the information, they need in a timely manner themselves.