New 8/17/08, updated 3/28/19
Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or “What the Taxpayer Bill of Rights Means for You”(www.irs.gov)
- The Right to Be Informed. Taxpayers have the right to know how to comply with tax laws. They are entitled to clear explanations of the laws and IRS procedures. Taxpayers have the right to know about IRS decisions affecting their accounts with clear explanations of the outcomes.
- The Right to Quality Service. Taxpayers have the right to receive prompt, courteous and professional assistance when dealing with the IRS. They also have the right to speak with a supervisor about inadequate service. Communications from the IRS should be clear and easy to understand.
- The Right to Pay No More Than the Correct Amount of Tax. Taxpayers must pay only the amount of tax legally due. This includes interest and penalties. The IRS must apply all tax payments properly.
- The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard. Taxpayers have the right to object to formal IRS actions or proposed actions. They can also provide justification with additional documentation. Taxpayers can expect the IRS to consider timely objections and documentation promptly and fairly. Taxpayers can expect a response when the IRS disagrees with the taxpayer’s position.
- The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum. Taxpayers are entitled to a fair and impartial appeal of most IRS decisions. This includes appealing certain penalties. Taxpayers have the right to receive a written response from the IRS regarding a decision. Taxpayers generally have the right to take their case to court.
- The Right to Finality. Taxpayers have the right to know the maximum amount of time allowed to challenge an IRS position. They also have the right to know the maximum amount of time the IRS has to audit a particular tax year or collect a tax debt. Taxpayers have the right to know when the IRS concludes 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 be no more intrusive than necessary. During these proceedings, the IRS will respect all due process rights, including search and seizure protections. When applicable, the IRS will provide a collection due process hearing.
- The Right to Confidentiality. Taxpayers have the right to expect that their tax information will remain confidential. The IRS will not disclose information unless authorized by the taxpayers or by law. Taxpayers should expect the IRS to take appropriate action against IRS employees, return preparers and others who wrongfully disclose return information.
- The Right to Retain Representation. Taxpayers have the right to retain an authorized representative of their choice for representation during dealings with the IRS. When a taxpayer cannot afford representation, they may seek assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (list).
- The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System. Taxpayers have the right to expect fairness from the tax system. The IRS must consider all facts and circumstances that might affect any liabilities, the ability to pay or the ability to provide information timely. Taxpayers have the right to receive assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service. TAS can help taxpayers who are experiencing financial difficulty. They can also help when the IRS has not resolved tax issues properly and timely through normal channels.
The following information is derived from IRS material, see IRS Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer.
IRS employees are required to explain and protect your rights as a taxpayer throughout your contact with the IRS. The IRS will not disclose the information you give the IRS to anyone, except as authorized by law. You have the right to know why the IRS is asking for information, how it will be used, and what happens if you do not provide the requested information. If you believe that an IRS employee has not treated you in a professional, fair, and courteous manner, you should contact that employee’s supervisor. If the supervisor’s response is unsatisfactory, you may write to the IRS Center where you filed your return (see “Contact My Local Office”).
You may represent yourself or, with proper written authorization, have someone else represent you. Your representative must be a person allowed to practice before the IRS, such as an attorney, certified public accountant, or enrolled agent. If you are in an interview and ask to consult such a person, then, in most cases, IRS must stop and reschedule the interview. You may have someone accompany you to an interview. You may make sound recordings of any meetings with Examination, Appeals, or Collection personnel, provided you inform the IRS in writing 10 days before the meeting.
The IRS accepts most taxpayers’ returns as filed. If the IRS inquires about your return or selects it for examination, that does not suggest you are dishonest. The inquiry or examination may or may not result in more tax. Your case may be closed without change or you may receive a refund.
Appeals and Judicial Review
Publication 5, Your Appeal Rights and How to Prepare a Protest If You Don’t Agree, explains your right to disagree with an examiner’s proposed changes and request the case be reviewed by the IRS Appeals Office. If you do not wish to use the Appeals process or disagree with the Appeals findings, you may be able to take your case to the U.S. Tax Court, U.S. Court of Federal Claims, or U.S. District Court.
3 Appeals Online Self-Help Tools
Three tools are available on http://www.IRS.gov, for:
- innocent spouse relief
- rejection of penalty abatement, and
- rejection of an Offer in Compromise
to assist you in focusing on your area of dispute, help you determine if you can benefit from filing an appeal, and help to prepare an appeal that is appropriate and complete.
You are responsible for paying only the correct amount of tax due under the law. If you can’t pay all of the tax due, you may be able to make monthly installment payments. Penalties and interest for late payment will still apply unless reasonable cause is established (interest generally can not be abated). Even if you can’t pay the total tax due, be sure to file all tax returns timely to avoid a late filing penalty. Publication 594, What You Should Know about the IRS Collection Process, explains your rights and responsibilities regarding payment of federal taxes. It describes what to do when you owe taxes and the collection actions that the IRS may take.
Help from the Taxpayer Advocate Service
The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the IRS created to assist taxpayers seeking help in resolving tax problems resolved through normal channels, or who believe that an IRS system or procedure is not working as it should. To contact the TAS call toll free 877-777-4778 (800-829-4059 for TTY/TDD) or visit the Taxpayer Advocate page at the IRS Web site to see if you are eligible for assistance.