IRS Makes it Official: Taxpayers Have Rights

Tax Law and News IRS and tax professionals

The Internal Revenue Service has announced the adoption of an official Taxpayer Bill of Rights. “…taxpayer surveys conducted by my office have found that most taxpayers do not believe they have rights before the IRS and even fewer can name their rights,” said National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olsen. “I believe the list of core taxpayer rights…will help taxpayers better understand their right in dealing with the tax system” [News Release 2014-72, 6/10/2014]. Culled from the thousands of pages in the Internal Revenue Code, like the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights the Taxpayer Bill of Rights contains 10 provisions. The new and official Taxpayer Bill of Rights can be found in IRS Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer. A copy displayed in your office or handouts in your waiting room–especially at this time of year–may serve as a reminder to your clients that the tax system is not just a pay-up and shut-up proposition.

  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 law 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 have a way to file complaints 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, 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 prompt and impartial administrative appeal of IRS actions and have the right to receive a written response explaining the Appeals Division’s 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’ position, as well as the maximum amount of time the IRS has to audit a particular tax year. Taxpayers have the right to know when the IRS has finished 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 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, Including Access to the Taxpayer Advocate Service 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.