If you completed at least an elementary level education, you’re no doubt familiar with the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In short, the Bill of Rights is comprised of the first 10 amendments of the Constitution. However, you may have gone through four years of college and still not know that there is a Taxpayer Bill of Rights, as well. It is called such because there are 10 rights to which you are entitled as a taxpayer in the United States.
Most people are moderately aware of their responsibilities and obligations as taxpayers. There is typically a lingering fear that acts as incentive for people to submit their tax returns on time to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This fear has another name, which is “tax audit.” No one wants to be audited by the IRS, so they try to navigate the tax system on their own or hire someone to do their taxes for them. Many taxpayers are completely unaware of the 10 rights they possess. If you count yourself among that group, keep reading, and you’ll gain a basic understanding of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights by the end of this post.
Your 10 rights as a taxpayer include the right to be informed
It’s your responsibility to fulfill your tax obligations on time. However, The IRS and U.S. Government are obligated to provide necessary information. They must explain tax laws, procedures, instructions and more. You have a right to be informed of changes in U.S. tax codes. Basically, you have a right to know whatever you need to know to be able to fulfill your tax responsibilities.
The IRS has to treat you with kindness and respect
As a taxpayer in the United States, you have a right to quality service. This includes courteous speech from IRS agents, as well as prompt and professional support as needed. Tied in with this right is the right to speak with an IRS supervisor if an agent has violated your right to quality service.
IRS can’t take any money from you beyond the exact amount you owe
The IRS cannot keep any over-payment you mistakenly send to pay your taxes. It also cannot charge you more interest or a higher penalty than you legally owe. If you are due a refund, they must send it in a timely manner.
Your rights as a taxpayer include the right to be heard
If the IRS takes formal action against you, you have a right to oppose. You may submit documentation to substantiate your claim, and the IRS is obligated to review the information and consider your objection in a fair and timely manner. The IRS must respond to your opposition, even if the agency disagrees with your position.
You have a right to appeal IRS decisions
If you believe that the IRS has rendered an unjust decision against you, you have a right to appeal. The Office of Appeals must provide a fair and impartial review of your case. You also have a right to take your case to court. Finally, you have a right receive the decision of an appeal in writing.
Taxpayers have a right to finality
This generally means that you are entitled to know the exact of amount of time you have to file an appeal. It also means that the IRS must inform you of how much time it has to conduct an audit and also when your audit is finished.
IRS inquiries must be kept private
If you become subject to an IRS investigation or audit or enforcement action, you have the right to expect privacy. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects you against unlawful searches and seizures. This protection applies to IRS investigations, as well. Taxpayers are also entitled to a due process hearing regarding the collection of evidence.
No one can disclose or use your tax information
There is confidentiality between a taxpayer and a professional tax preparer. If you hire someone to do your taxes, he or she must keep the information you disclose during the process confidential. You have a right to expect legal action to be taken against any tax preparer who violates your right to confidentiality.
A right to legal representation is one of your rights as a taxpayer
If you’ve watched old crime shows on TV, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed by the court on your behalf.” The Taxpayer Bill of Rights is similar to the Miranda warning. It states that you have a right to legal representation when you are involved in proceedings against the IRS.
The U.S. tax system must be fair and just
Your rights as a taxpayer in America include the right to be treated fairly and justly in all dealings with the Internal Revenue Service. It also means that if you provide legitimate cause as to why your taxes are late or you are unable to pay them, the IRS must consider the facts of your situation and make a fair and just decision. Regarding taxes, in particular state taxes, there have been numerous taxes levied against Americans in various states that can hardly be considered fair or just. Check out these examples of crazy taxes!
Were there any rights on this list that you were not aware of before reading this post?
The information contained herein was obtained from Publication 1 (Rev.9-2017) Catalog Number 64731W Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service www.irs.gov.