Every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights. You should be aware of these rights when you interact with the Internal Revenue Service. There are 10 broad categories:
- 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 the IRS procedures in all tax forms, instructions, publications, notices and correspondence.
- The Right to Quality Service. Taxpayers have the right to receive prompt, courteous, and professional assistance in their dealings with the IRS, to receive clear and easily understandable communications from the IRS and to speak to a supervisor about inadequate service.
- 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.
- 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 to receive a response if the IRS does not agree with their position.
- The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision. 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. Taxpayers generally have the right to take their cases to court.
- The Right to Finality. Taxpayers have the right to know the maximum amount of time they have to challenge the IRS's positions, 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.
- The Right to Privacy. Taxpayers have the right to expect that any IRS inquiry, examination or enforcement action will comply with the law and will respect all due-process rights.
- The Right to Confidentiality. Taxpayers have the right to expect 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 employers, return preparers and others who wrongfully use or disclose taxpayer return information.
- 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.
- 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 or ability to pay. Taxpayers have the right to receive assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service if they are experiencing financial difficulty or the IRS has not resolved their tax issues timely through its normal channels.
To expand awareness, the IRS is making Publication 1 (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) available in multiple languages on IRS.gov.
Barry Lisak is an IRS Enrolled Agent, meaning that he has passed special U.S. Treasury Department exams that qualify him to represent clients dealing with audits or tax-resolution cases. Any questions can be directed to him at (516) TAX-SAVE, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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