Most taxpayers in the US lack knowledge about the inner workings of the IRS, which results in a palpable fear of IRS audits and various doubts about the intentions of the taxman. This is the reason why there are many taxpayers who claim to have been harassed by the IRS. All these feelings of animosity and discomfort do not manifest, if taxpayers are cognizant of the fact that the IRS is an organization that works for the nation and its taxpayers, and will under no circumstance compromise the latter’s interests. In fact, until 2014, the IRS offered its version of the Bill of Rights highlighting the fundamental rights of every taxpayer and the obligations of the IRS to protect those rights.
In this 2-part series on the Bill of Rights of US Citizens, we discuss the rights that the IRS has rolled-out to protect the interest of all taxpayers.
1. Right to Be Informed
No matter the state you are in, you have the right to be informed about your taxation affairs and to know what you are supposed to do. You also have the right to clear explanations from the IRS about the laws and IRS procedures which should explicitly be there in all tax forms, publications, instructions, notices and correspondence. The IRS is also obliged to inform you of the decisions they take with respect to your tax accounts and you have the right to ask them for written explanations for any of their actions.
2. Right to Quality Service
The IRS is obliged to provide prompt, courteous and professional assistance to you as a taxpayer. The information it sends or has on its website must be clear and easy to digest. In case of any confusion or inadequate service, you have the right to speak to a supervisor.
3. Right to Pay No More than the Actual Tax Owed
You are not supposed to pay an amount more than what is legally due. The IRS also spares no effort to ensure that you are not asked to pay more than what you owe. If you suspect or discover that you have overpaid, you can file a claim for a refund. Similarly, you can file an offer in compromise, if you believe that you do not owe the full or part amount of the tax debt and ask the IRS to accept an amount you think is correct.
4. Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard
As a taxpayer you have the right to challenge the IRS if you think that there is a mathematical or clerical error on its part. You must raise your objection within 60 days of receiving any such incorrect information from the IRS. To help the IRS rectify the errors, you may send additional documents and if the IRS finds it to be correct, they will make the necessary adjustments and send you a modified notice.
5. Right to appeal IRS Decisions in an Independent Forum
Taxpayers have the right to appeal against most of the decisions of the IRS and that includes penalties as well. As a taxpayer, you may appeal to the Office of Appeals, an independent office that is separate from the office that reviewed your case the first time. The Office of Appeal is obliged to give you a written response regarding its decision about the appeal. If you taxpayer are not satisfied by their response then you may move to the court.
To Be Continued
These were five of the ten Bill of Rights that the IRS rolled out in the interests of taxpayers. For the remaining five rights, read the continuation in ‘Worried About The IRS? Know your Bill of Rights – Part 2’, the second of this 2-part series. In the meanwhile, if you have any questions regarding the Bill of Rights discussed in this post, feel free to get in touch with our expert tax lawyers at our Dallas based tax law firm and we will be more than happy to help.