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Taxpayer Bill of Rights

07.08.2014

American DemocracyThe Tax Code contains many taxpayer rights and protections. However, because the Tax Code is so large and complex, many taxpayers, who do not have the advice of a tax professional, are unaware of their rights. To clarify these protections, the IRS recently announced a Taxpayer Bill of Rights, describing 10 rights taxpayers have when dealing with the agency.

Taxpayer education

The idea for a Taxpayer Bill of Rights has been percolating for several years. One of the leading proponents has been National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson. In January 2014, Olson told Congress that a Taxpayer Bill of Rights was long overdue. Even though the rights already existed, many taxpayers did not know about them. More taxpayer education was needed, Olson emphasized. Olson proposed that either Congress pass legislation or the IRS take administrative action to set out a Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Olson proposed that a Taxpayer Bill of Rights be based on the U.S. Bill of Rights. Olson also recommended that the IRS describe taxpayer rights in non-technical language. Olson's proposal won support from IRS Commissioner John Koskinen earlier this year.

Taxpayer Bill of Rights

In June, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen and Olson together unveiled a 10-point Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

The provisions in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights are:

  1. The Right to Be Informed
  2. The Right to Quality Service
  3. The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax
  4. The Right to Challenge the IRS's Position and Be Heard
  5. The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum
  6. The Right to Finality
  7. The Right to Privacy
  8. The Right to Confidentiality
  9. The Right to Retain Representation
  10. The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System

"The Taxpayer Bill of Rights contains fundamental information to help taxpayers," Koskinen said. "These are core concepts about which taxpayers should be aware. Respecting taxpayer rights continues to be a top priority for IRS employees, and the new Taxpayer Bill of Rights summarizes these important protections in a clearer, more understandable format than ever before."

As the IRS Commissioner noted, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights does not create new rights. Rather, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights is intended to serve an educational purpose to help taxpayers understand better their existing rights.

IRS Publication 1

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights is highlighted prominently in IRS Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer. The IRS reported that updated Publication 1 will be sent to taxpayers when they receive notices on issues ranging from audits to collections. Updated Publication 1 initially will be available in English and Spanish, and later in Chinese, Korean, Russian and Vietnamese.

Additionally, the IRS created a special page on its website to highlight the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights will be displayed in all IRS offices.

Goldsticker_Cathy2_compressed for webIf you have any questions about the IRS Taxpayer Bill of Rights, please contact your Brown Smith Wallace Tax Advisor, or Cathy Goldsticker, at 314.983.1274 or cgoldsticker@bswllc.com.

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