Taxpayers Have Rights, Too!

Something — or someone — that many people fear, but shouldn’t, is getting a letter from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  The IRS is stereotyped as being ‘the long arm of the law,’ ‘the hammer that’s about to fall.’  While they’re a very ‘serious’ agency, their agents are generally quite helpful, kind and courteous.  And why?  Because of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.  It’s true; it’s actually ‘a thing.’  Taxpayers have rights, and they’re spelled out in IRS Pub. 1.

You should take the time to go through this two-page publication and know your rights; and know there’s nothing to fear from an IRS or other federal or state Department of Revenue employee.  Most importantly, if you get a letter from any tax authority, you should contact your tax professional immediately so they can review the letter, what’s being requested or stated, and hopefully give you an easy to understand explanation, and possibly help you to resolve the issue at hand.

The most recent revision to Pub. 1 was 2017, and I’m including a cut and paste of a portion of that publication below.  To read the entire publication, and make certain you’re reading the most current version, all you need to do is Google — IRS Pub 1 — and it should pop up.

*****     *****     *****     *****     *****

  1. The Right to Be Informed – Taxpayers have the right to know what they need to do to comply with the tax laws. They are entitled to clear explanations of the laws and IRS procedures in all tax forms, instructions, publications, notices, and correspondence. They have the right to be informed of IRS decisions about their tax accounts and to receive clear explanations of the outcomes.
  2. The Right to Quality Service – Taxpayers have the right to receive prompt, courteous, and professional assistance in their dealings with the IRS, to be spoken to in a way they can easily understand, to receive clear and easily understandable communications from the IRS, and to speak to a supervisor about inadequate service.
  3. The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax – Taxpayers have the right to pay only the amount of tax legally due, including interest and penalties, and to have the IRS apply all tax payments properly.
  4. The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard – Taxpayers have the right to raise objections and provide additional documentation in response to formal IRS actions or proposed actions, to expect that the IRS will consider their timely objections and documentation promptly and fairly, and to receive a response if the IRS does not agree with their position.
  5. The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum – Taxpayers are entitled to a fair and impartial administrative appeal of most IRS decisions, including many penalties, and have the right to receive a written response regarding the Of­ce of Appeals’ decision. Taxpayers generally have the right to take their cases to court.
  6. The Right to Finality – Taxpayers have the right to know the maximum amount of time they have to challenge the IRS’s position as well as the maximum amount of time the IRS has to audit a particular tax year or collect a tax debt. Taxpayers have the right to know when the IRS has ­nished an audit.
  7. The Right to Privacy – Taxpayers have the right to expect that any IRS inquiry, examination, or enforcement action will comply with the law and be no more intrusive than necessary, and will respect all due process rights, including search and seizure protections, and will provide, where applicable, a collection due process hearing.
  8. The Right to Confidentiality – Taxpayers have the right to expect that any information they provide to the IRS will not be disclosed unless authorized by the taxpayer or by law. Taxpayers have the right to expect appropriate action will be taken against employees, return preparers, and others who wrongfully use or disclose taxpayer return information.
  9. The Right to Retain Representation – Taxpayers have the right to retain an authorized representative of their choice to represent them in their dealings with the IRS. Taxpayers have the right to seek assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic if they cannot afford representation.
  10. The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System – Taxpayers have the right to expect the tax system to consider facts and circumstances that might affect their underlying liabilities, ability to pay, or ability to provide information timely. Taxpayers have the right to receive assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service if they are experiencing ­financial diffi­culty or if the IRS has not resolved their tax issues properly and timely through its normal channels.

Sources – IRS Pub. 1 – The Taxpayer Bill of Rights