With the Democratic and Republican National Conventions behind us, the nation has turned its focus towards the general election in the fall. I would first say, regardless of whom you vote for, I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of voting in general. As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves, and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”
The subject of voting, and of democracy more broadly, reminds me of one of the founding documents of our nation: The Bill of Rights. This powerful document contains the most important foundational ideals of our country, expressed rather simply in ten declarative statements – the first ten rights which we as Americans enjoy and defend.
I wanted to share with everyone another lesser-known “bill of rights”: the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, as put forth by the IRS. Like the original, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights consists of ten “rights” afforded to all taxpayers in their dealings with the IRS. Here, in abbreviated form, are the ten rights of all taxpayers:
- The Right to Be Informed: Taxpayers have a right to know what they must do to be in compliance with tax laws and regulations, and also to be informed of IRS decisions regarding their tax accounts.
- The Right to Quality Service: Taxpayers have a right to prompt, courteous, and professional assistance when dealing with the IRS, and a right to speak to a supervisor when service is inadequate.
- The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax: Taxpayers have a right to pay only the tax amount legal due, and to have the IRS apply payments properly.
- The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard: Taxpayers have a right to object to – and provide additional information in regards to – IRS actions and notices.
- The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum: Taxpayers have a right to a fair and impartial administrative appeal, as well as a right to take most cases to court.
- The Right to Finality: Taxpayers have a right to know how much time they have to challenge an IRS determination, and also to know the maximum amount of time the IRS may audit a particular tax year (e.g. the statute of limitations regarding audits).
- The Right to Privacy: Taxpayers have a right to expect that any IRS action will be no more intrusive than necessary, and will respect the taxpayer’s right to due process.
- The Right to Confidentiality: Taxpayers have the right to expect that the IRS will not disclose any information provided, unless authorized by the taxpayer or by law. Taxpayers can further expect that the IRS will take disciplinary action against employees, return preparers, and others who wrongfully disclose such information.
- The Right to Retain Representation: Taxpayers have a right to retain an authorized representative (such as, a CPA, tax attorney, Enrolled Agent, etc.) to represent them in all dealing before the IRS.
- The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System: Taxpayers have a right to a tax system that considers facts and circumstances affecting their underlying ability to pay or to provide timely filings. Taxpayers also have a right to receive assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service if the IRS has not resolved their tax issues properly and timely.
If you think the IRS may have violated one of these rights as it relates to your tax return, or if you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us any time. We’d love to stand up for you and defend YOUR rights!