Your Top 10 Rights As A Taxpayer

Taxpayer Bill of Rights

Your Top 10 Rights As A Taxpayer
January 18, 2017

Nightmare: you've been called to a meeting with an IRS agent to discuss your tax return, and you can't afford professional help. Did you know that you could have someone help you at low cost or even free? It’s one of your rights as a U.S. taxpayer.

You may know about the Bill of Rights, but were you aware that the IRS also has a Bill of Rights for your benefit? Here are your ten fundamental rights known as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights:

The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System – You have the right to expect the IRS to consider special circumstances that affect your tax liabilities, your ability to pay, or your ability to provide necessary information. You also have the right to assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service.

The Right to Confidentiality – You have the right for your confidential tax information to remain confidential unless you authorize its disclosure. IRS employees who violate these rules will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.

The Right to Be Informed – You have the right to clear explanations of all the tax laws and the corresponding IRS procedures throughout all IRS publications and correspondence. Taxpayers must be notified regarding any IRS decisions involving their account and the outcome must be fully and clearly explained. (Unfortunately, their explanation might not make the tax code seem any simpler.)

The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax – You have the right to pay only the amount of tax that you legally owe, including any accrued interest and penalties. The IRS is also obligated to apply your tax payments correctly.

The Right to Privacy – You have the right to expect that all IRS actions regarding your account will comply with the law. Actions must not be more intrusive than necessary and should respect all rights of due process.

The Right to Challenge the IRS's Position and Be Heard – You have the right to object to an IRS action and provide documentation to support your claim. The IRS is obligated to consider the objections fairly and promptly, and to send a response to the taxpayer if they disagree with the claim.

The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum – You have the right to appeal IRS decisions and receive a "fair and impartial" hearing from the Office of Appeals. Many tax penalties are included within this right. The IRS is obligated to send you a written response to notify you of the decision. In addition, you generally have the right to take these cases to court.

The Right to Retain Representation – You have the right to an "authorized representative" of your choice to represent you before the IRS, and to acquire assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic if you can't afford a qualified representative.

The Right to Quality Service – You have the right to "prompt, courteous, and professional" help in your communications with the IRS. Thanks to budget cuts, this has been a difficult one for the IRS to achieve in recent years. The IRS produced 8.8 million "courtesy disconnects," aka telephone hang-ups, during the 2015 tax-filing season that ended in mid-2016. They have pledged to improve on this each year.

The Right to Finality – Finally (sorry, we couldn't resist), you have the right to know all deadlines for challenging IRS positions, IRS collections of tax debt, and the window of time for an audit in any particular tax year. "Anybody of any income level can potentially get audited," reminds Betterment Head of Tax Eric Bronnenkant. He suggests, "…that people prepare their taxes honestly and truthfully, and also be able to support what they put on their return in the event they get audited."

Each right has a secondary link on the IRS website that explains it in greater detail. Read all about these rights, and make sure to understand them when you are engaged in dealings with the IRS. We hope that you will never have a reason to remind the IRS of any of these rights.

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Carla | 04.05.16 @ 17:01
I hope I am never in a position to have to need these bill of rights but I am saving this article just in case. Thank you.
Erin | 04.05.16 @ 17:03
I had no idea this even existed. The idea of being audited make me nervous. I'm glad to see there are rights that tax payers have that protect them and guide them through the process. Thanks for the great information!
Steffanie | 04.05.16 @ 17:04
Being audited is a fear of mine! I will be keeping this article close by in case I need it in the future.
Sarah | 04.05.16 @ 17:05
I had heard of this before but never actually read them all. very interesting.
STOKES | 04.05.16 @ 17:06
I didn't know this. Good to know.
Kate | 04.05.16 @ 17:10
This is something that I save to keep, I hope that I will never need this, but it is handy to have. I had no idea that it even existed. I am glad that it exists to keep us taxpayers safe. I wish I had known about it sooner.
trish | 04.05.16 @ 17:14
Even with having an accountant do our taxes for us, I still fear being auditing! Glad to have this information, but hope I never need it.
irene | 04.05.16 @ 17:17
Great info. I think a lot of people get so nervous of the IRS they forget they even have rights.
Crystal | 04.05.16 @ 17:19
Now, the question is... how far will these rights stand? The IRS has can be tough to deal with. Great list!
Nancy | 04.05.16 @ 17:20
I had no idea that this was even in existence. This is very good information to know.
Christina | 04.05.16 @ 17:21
I hope I never have to go through anything that this is needed, but going to save this article.
$commenter.renderDisplayableName() | 03.22.18 @ 14:11

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