Yes, you have rights! And when confronting the IRS, it is important to know your rights. Do you know yours? Chances are you don’t. Some estimate that as many as 46% of people believe that they don’t have rights when dealing with the IRS and most people don’t know all of their rights.
Everyone in the United States and possibly the world has heard of the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution. As a taxpayer you also have a set of rights. They are not in the constitution and they don’t teach you about them in school, which may explain why they have been hard to find. They have been buried in the Tax Code where only the brave venture without guidance. Recently the IRS announced a “Taxpayer Bill of Rights.” The Taxpayer Bill of Rights takes the taxpayer rights that are granted in the Internal Revenue Code and gathers then together in one place for easy reference. So without further ado, here’s what you have a right to expect from the IRS:
The Right to Be Informed
You have the right to know what you need to do to comply with the tax laws. You are entitled to clear explanations of the laws and IRS procedures in all tax forms, instructions, publications, notices, and correspondence. You have the right to be informed of IRS decisions about you tax accounts and to receive clear explanations of the outcomes.
You have the right to receive prompt, courteous, and professional assistance in you dealings with the IRS, to be spoken to in a way you can easily understand, to receive clear and easily understandable communications from the IRS, and to speak to a supervisor about inadequate service.
You 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.
You 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 your timely objections and documentation promptly and fairly, and to receive a response if the IRS does not agree with your position.
You 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. You generally have the right to take your case to court.
You have the right to know the maximum amount of time you 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. You have the right to know when the IRS has finished an audit.
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.
You have the right to expect that any information you provide to the IRS will not be disclosed unless authorized by the you or by law. You have the right to expect appropriate action will be taken against employees, return preparers, and others who wrongfully use or disclose your return information.
You have the right to retain an authorized representative of your choice to represent you in their dealings with the IRS. You have the right to seek assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic if you cannot afford representation.
You have the right to expect the tax system to consider facts and circumstances that might affect your underlying liabilities, ability to pay, or ability to provide information timely. You have the right to receive assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service if you are experiencing financial difficulty or if the IRS has not resolved you tax issues properly and timely through its normal channels.
The key to enforcing your taxpayer rights is being informed. Make sure you know your rights before dealing with the IRS.