taxpayer bill of rightsNot too long ago, the IRS began publicizing its Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The point of this move by the IRS is to let taxpayers know that they have rights when it comes to dealing with the IRS and concerns about their taxes, especially if the IRS is performing an audit or if there is some other issue with your tax situation.

In order to effectively let taxpayers know what to expect, the IRS has grouped the rights into 10 categories, and released that list. It’s a quick and dirty way to see what types of protections you are entitled to, and a way to let you know that you have options. You may have to hunt around for those options, but at least, with this list from the IRS, you know where to begin.

What’s in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights?

First of all, it’s important to understand that this is a release from the IRS. It’s different from the bills Congress has passed before. Congress is fond of passing legislation with the name “Taxpayer Bill of Rights,” but these bills have done little to educate the public about what they can expect. That’s where the IRS comes in. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights offers a bulleted list of your rights to:

  • Be informed 
  • Quality service 
  • Pay no more than the correct amount of tax 
  • Challenge the IRS’s position and be heard
  • Appeal an IRS decision in an independent forum 
  • Finality 
  • Privacy 
  • Confidentiality 
  • Retain representation 
  • A fair and just tax system, including access to the Taxpayer Advocate Service

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights can be found in IRS Publication 1, and it is supposed to accompany notices sent out to Americans who are experiencing audits and collections. The idea is to quickly remind them that they do have rights, and that there are laws on the books that allow them to retain representation, and that allow them to challenge the position of the IRS (even if judgment ultimately goes against them).

Receiving a notice from the IRS can be scary and daunting. When you are faced with the might of the IRS, it helps to have a clear idea of what to expect. While the Taxpayer Bill of Rights doesn’t provide a lot of detail, it does provide a good starting point for those who are worried about what could happen next. The idea that you can retain some knowledgeable to represent you, as well as the idea that you can appeal an IRS decision, are both powerful bits of knowledge that many people are without.

Once you know your basic rights, you can start digging a little deeper to figure out how, exactly, to proceed, and what protections you can expect. The IRS hopes that this move will smooth the way to reconcile problems related to taxpayer problems. After all, the idea is to make the IRS seem less threatening. That way taxpayers will be more willing to make efforts to resolve problems, rather than ignore them until they get worse.