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The IRS Taxpayer Bill of Rights

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The Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent organization within the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), has argued strongly for the creation of a list of taxpayer rights as a way to promote confidence in the fairness and integrity of the tax system (Source: National Taxpayer Advocate, Fiscal Year 2015 Objectives Report to Congress). In response, the IRS announced the adoption of a formal “Taxpayer Bill of Rights.” It’s worth noting that the rights listed are not new; the Taxpayer Bill of Rights simply groups and summarizes rights that exist in the Internal Revenue Code, making them easier to find and understand. Here are the 10 items that make up the list, along with short explanations.

The right to be informed

The IRS must provide clear explanations in all forms, instructions, publications, notices, and correspondence. You have a right to be informed of IRS decisions relating to your account, and to receive a clear explanation of any outcome.

The right to quality service

You should expect prompt, courteous assistance when you deal with the IRS. All communications from the IRS should be clear and understandable. If you have a problem with the way you are being treated by an IRS employee, you can ask to speak to that employee’s supervisor.

The right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax

You are expected to pay only the amount of tax that is legally due, as well as penalties and interest on unpaid amounts.

The right to challenge the IRS’s position and be heard

When the IRS takes or proposes any formal action–for example, proposing a change to your tax return as the result of a mathematical error–you have the right to object and to provide additional documentation that supports your position. You should expect the IRS to consider your response promptly and fairly.

The right to appeal an IRS decision in an independent forum

You have the right to a fair and impartial administrative appeal of most IRS decisions, generally through an independent IRS Office of Appeals that is separate from the IRS office that initially reviewed your case. You also generally have the right to take your case to either the United States Tax Court or a U.S. District Court (or the U.S. Court of Federal Claims).

The right to finality

You have a right to know all statutory time limits that apply. This applies to limits on the amount of time that the IRS has to assess tax, to audit a specific tax year, or to collect a tax debt, as well as the amount of time you have available to challenge an IRS position or action, or file a claim for a refund.

The right to privacy

All IRS inquiries, examinations, and enforcement actions must comply with the law and must be no more intrusive than necessary. You have specific due-process rights that the IRS must respect, including search and seizure protections.

The right to confidentiality

The IRS may not disclose your information to third parties without your permission, unless otherwise authorized by law.

The right to representation

You have the right to retain an authorized representative such as an attorney, CPA, or enrolled agent to represent you in dealing with the IRS.

The right to a fair and just tax system

You have a right to expect the tax system to consider all relevant facts and circumstances. This applies in the determination of the correct amount of tax owed, as well as your ability to pay, and your ability to provide necessary information in a timely manner.

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights is included in IRS Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer.


  
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The information presented here should not be construed as tax advice. Please consult a qualified tax professional regarding your specific situation.