The Taxpayer Bill of Rights: Your Rights Before the IRS
Treating taxpayers fairly is what the Taxpayer Bill of Rights is all about. In 2014, the IRS adopted this collection of 10 taxpayer rights as proposed by the Taxpayer Advocate. However, the IRS was not establishing new rights with this document. Rather, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights combined existing rights woven throughout tax law, regulations and policies and put them in one charter, making them easier to find.
IRS employees are responsible for knowing and upholding these rights, ensuring that taxpayer matters are handled fairly in every interaction. You can find the Taxpayer Bill of Rights on the IRS website and in IRS offices. Below, you’ll find a summary of each right.
Taxpayer Rights: What You Can Expect from the IRS
Whether you’re dealing with the IRS in response to an audit, or simply filing your annual return, you should know the IRS affords you these fundamental taxpayer rights.
- The right to be informed – You have the right to know what you need to do to comply with tax laws. This includes clear explanations of the laws, procedures, IRS decisions and the outcomes concerning your tax account. For example, if the IRS were to disallow your claim for a refund – even partially, it must explain the specific reasons why.
- The right to quality service – You’re entitled to prompt, courteous and professional assistance, including easy-to-understand communications, when you work with the IRS. Generally, if you feel your service was inadequate, you have the right to speak to a supervisor.
- The right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax – You have the right to pay only the tax that is legally due, including interest and penalties. Additionally, you should expect the IRS to properly apply all payments that you’ve made.
- The right to challenge the IRS’s position and be heard – You have the right to raise objections and provide additional documentation in response to formal IRS actions or proposed actions. In the event you do challenge a certain action, you should expect the IRS to consider your challenge promptly and provide a response if it does not agree.
- The right to appeal an IRS decision in an independent forum – You have the right to a fair and impartial administrative appeal of most IRS decision, including any penalties. You should expect the IRS to provide a written response of the Office of Appeals’ determination. IRS publication 5 outlines how to prepare a protest if don’t agree with the IRS findings.
- The right to finality – You’re entitled to know how long the IRS has to audit a particular tax year, collect a tax debt or know when an audit is complete. Additionally, you have the right to know the maximum amount of time allowed to challenge the IRS’s position.
- The right to privacy – You have the right to expect that IRS will be no more intrusive than necessary as it conducts any inquiry, examination or enforcement action. Additionally, you should expect the IRS to respect all due process rights and will provide a collection due process hearing where applicable.
- The right to confidentiality – You have the right to expect that the IRS will not disclose any information you provide unless authorized by you or the law. If an IRS employee, return preparer or others wrongfully use or disclose your return information, you should expect appropriate action will be taken.
- The right to retain representation – You’re entitled to retain an authorized representative of your choice, such as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Enrolled Agent (EA), to represent you in front of the IRS. If you can’t afford representation, you have the right to request assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.
- The right to a fair and just tax system – You have the right to expect the tax system to consider circumstances and facts that could affect your ability to pay, your liability or even your ability to provide timely information. If you’re having financial difficulties or if the IRS hasn’t resolved your issues properly or promptly, you should expect the right to receive assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service.
Know How H&R Block Can Help
Navigating your taxes and working with the IRS can be complex, but it should also be fair, so it’s important that you’re aware of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
Not sure you want to go it alone? Our tax experts can help. Whether you need help researching your IRS account, representation in an audit or assistance with other issues, we’re here for you.
What triggers the IRS to audit a tax return? Learn how common tax mistakes and errors can be a red flag and affect your chances of being audited by the IRS.
Find the current percentages for federal income tax rates, capital gains tax rates, Social Security tax rates and more from the tax experts at H&R Block.
The key to understanding your w-2 form is decoding the boxes and numbers. Learn how to read your w-2 form with this box-by-box infographic from H&R Block.
The tax experts at H&R Block outline how students and parents can file Form 8863 and document qualified expenses. Read about Form 8863 here.