Get to Know: ‘The Taxpayer Bill of Rights’

Even with the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, dealing with the IRS is a frightening experience.

Well, not for us. Our nearly two decades of experience representing clients faced with the most frightening and serious tax issues have given us nothing but confidence when negotiating with the IRS.

But if, like nearly all taxpayers, you’re not used to dealing with the IRS, the prospect of facing your tax debt, tax lien or wage garnishment, or audit can be overwhelming—to say the least.

While we always recommend you enlist help from a professional tax relief company, there’s another mantra we live by: The best tool to add to your toolbox when taking on your tax issues is knowledge.

In the spirit of learning and building your confidence in dealing with the IRS, we’d like to walk you through the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Never heard of it? We won’t judge! In fact, most taxpayers haven’t.

However, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights is one of the most important documents you have at your disposal as a taxpayer! It outlines your rights as a taxpayer regarding payment, information, service, and everything else that will drive your interactions with the IRS for the rest of your life.

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights

Your rights as a U.S. taxpayer are pretty extensive; there are 10 rights outlined on the IRS’s website. We’ll walk you through the text in each of them and what it means to you.

1. The Right to Be Informed

“Taxpayers have the right to know what they need to do to comply with the tax laws.

What This Means: You deserve to have whatever information you may need about the IRS or your taxes, whenever you want (or need) it. The IRS should make it easy to understand what you need to do to stay on the IRS’s good side.

2. The Right to Quality Service

“Taxpayers have the right to receive prompt, courteous, and professional assistance in their dealings with the IRS…

What This Means: Among other things, you have the right to be treated fairly and courteously by the IRS. You should be given clear explanations and be able to speak to a supervisor about poor service if need be.

3. 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…”

What This Means: You should never have to pay more than you owe, including applicable penalties and interest. Any payments you make to the IRS must be applied to your accounts correctly.

4. 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…”

What This Means: You always have a chance to stand up for yourself and contest your tax situation. Though this doesn’t mean the outcome will change, it does mean the IRS can’t just make a final decision without your objection and documentation.

5. The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum

“Taxpayers are entitled to a fair and impartial administrative appeal of most IRS decisions…”

What This Means: You can appeal most decisions by the IRS, including penalties. Also, you can receive these communications in writing, and in most situations, can take your specific case to court.

6. The Right to Finality

“Taxpayers have the right to know the maximum amount of time they have to challenge the IRS’s position.

What This Means: Your tax issues don’t stretch on forever, and you have the right to know the timelines. If the IRS has made a decision, you deserve to know how long you have to contest it; if the IRS is attempting to audit or collect a debt, you deserve to know how long that will take.

7. The Right to Privacy

“Taxpayers have the right to expect that any IRS inquiry, examination, or enforcement action will…be no more intrusive than necessary…”

What This Means: The IRS can’t break the law when auditing or enforcing tax laws. They can’t be more intrusive than they need to be, and they can’t sidestep due process when it comes to collecting, search, and seizure actions.

8. The Right to Confidentiality

“Taxpayers have the right to expect that any information they provide to the IRS will not be disclosed unless authorized by the taxpayer or by law.

What This Means: Your private information is your private information. If a tax preparer, an IRS employee, or anyone else improperly uses or shares your return information, they can be—and will be—punished.

9. 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.

What This Means: You never have to go it alone. You deserve to have the tax support you may need to deal with the IRS, whatever the situation may be. This is exactly the kind of work that does; we help those who need it.

10. 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, ability to pay, or ability to provide information timely.

What This Means: The IRS and related tax authorities should be empathetic regarding your ability to pay. Typically, the IRS offers leeway in the form of payment plans for those experiencing hardship or deadline extensions for those who have been affected by natural disasters, among other things.

Exercise Your Taxpayer Bill of Rights

Feeling overwhelmed by the IRS is natural, and in our experience, very common for most people. But you may not realize that you have a rights specifically outlined in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, and they should give you a lot more confidence.

For the rest of the confidence you need to take on the IRS and handle your tax debts, give us a call. We’ll give you the information, expertise, and guidance you need to get you on the right track to financial freedom.

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