Taxpayer Bill of Rights
In 2014, the IRS formally adopted a new Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The document is designed to better communicate to taxpayers their existing statutory and administrative protections. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights groups the dozens of rights in the Internal Revenue Code, the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, and the Internal Revenue Manual into ten fundamental rights in an effort to make them clear, understandable, and accessible both to taxpayers and IRS employees. The Rights are as follows:
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.
EXAMPLE: Certain notices must include the amount (if any) of the tax, interest and certain penalties the taxpayer owes and must explain why he owes these amounts
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.
EXAMPLE: When collecting tax, the IRS should treat a taxpayer with courtesy. Generally, the IRS should only contact a taxpayer between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. The IRS should not contact a taxpayer at his place of employment if the IRS knows, or has reason to know, that his employer does not allow this kind of contact
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.
EXAMPLE: If a taxpayer believes he has overpaid his taxes, he can file a refund claim asking for the money back
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.
EXAMPLE: If a taxpayer is notified his return has a mathematical or clerical error, he has 60 days to tell the IS that he disagrees. If the IRS is not persuaded, it will issue a notice proposing a tax adjustment. The notice provides a taxpayer the right to challenge the proposed adjustment in Tax Court by filing a petition within 90 days of the date of the notice.
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 Office of Appeals’ decision. Taxpayers generally have the right to take their cases to court.
EXAMPLE: If the IRS has sent a taxpayer a notice proposing additional tax he may dispute the proposed adjustment in the U.S. Tax Court before he has to pay the tax
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 colect a tax debt. Taxpayers have the right to know when the IRS has finished an audit.
EXAMPLE: The IRS generally has 10 years from the assessment date to collect unpaid taxes from a taxpayer
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.
EXAMPLE: The IRS should not seek intrusive and extraneous information about a taxpayer’s lifestyle during an audit if there is no reasonable indication that he has unreported income
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.
EXAMPLE: In general, the IRS may not disclose a taxpayer’s tax information to third parties unless he gives permission
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.
EXAMPLE: A taxpayer may select a qualified representative person to represent him in an interview with the IRS. The IRS cannot require that a taxpayer attend with his representative.
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 request 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.