With the turn of the calendar, many Americans have their sights set on another annual milestone: tax season.
While this time of year may leave many taxpayers confused, unsure, or with questions, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has a resource that can be helpful during this season – the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
The document was designed to outline taxpayers’ rights – both during tax season and beyond, as well as what it looks like to get refunds, examinations, collections, and appeals.
What rights do taxpayers have?
The official document from the IRS outlines 10 important rights that taxpayers have when filing their taxes – and throughout the entire year:
The Right to Be Informed: This requires clear communication from the IRS to taxpayers in regard to decisions about tax accounts, information on complying with tax laws, as well as clear explanations of all tax laws and IRS procedures on all documentation.
The Right to Quality Service: When communicating directly with the IRS, taxpayers are entitled to receive clear, concise communication in a prompt, easy-to-understand manner. Taxpayers are encouraged to reach out to supervisors or higher-ups if this is not the case.
The Right to Pay No More Than the Correct Amount of Tax: This includes any accrued interest or penalties.
The Right to Challenge the IRS’ Position and Be Heard: Should taxpayers have any objections regarding any actions taken by the IRS, they have the right to object to the agency. Additionally, the IRS is required to respond to such objections.
The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum: Should taxpayers have any issues with decisions made by the IRS, they have the right to appeal such decisions – and go to court if necessary. Any appeals must be met with a written response from the IRS’ Office of Appeals.
The Right to Finality: When waiting on any communication from the IRS regarding an audit, an appeal, or debt collection, taxpayers have the right to know exactly how long these processes should take.
The Right to Privacy: Should the IRS require any additional action – including enforcement action, general inquiries, or examinations, it must adhere to all laws and should not involve any extra force or intrusion.
The Right to Confidentiality: All information provided by taxpayers to the IRS must remain confidential to the agency – unless permission is explicitly granted to the agency. Tax preparers and IRS employees who mishandle taxpayers’ personal information are subject to legal action.
The Right to Retain Representation: In the event of any legal proceedings with the IRS, taxpayers can retain the representation of their choosing – certified public accountant, an enrolled agent, or an attorney. For taxpayers who may not be able to afford representation, the Low Taxpayer Clinic can help provide assistance.
The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System: Under this tenet, the IRS is required to consider outside factors in taxpayers’ lives that can affect how quickly they’re able to provide information or make payments. This also applies to compromises when paying back tax debt. Additionally, lower-income individuals can utilize programs such as the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic and the Taxpayer Advocate Service.
More information on all of these rights is available to consumers here.