You’ve probably heard of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights before, sometimes referred to as TABOR. But do you know what it is, exactly? To put it into layman’s terms, it’s essentially a contract which limits the growth of government in terms of increasing taxes. It allows taxes to increase only as a result of inflation or population growth unless larger increases are approved by a special referendum. This is not a completely new concept. Colorado adopted a version of TABOR in the 1990’s and was one of the first states to set this precedent. A 2014 press release from the IRS outlines the Taxpayer Bill of Rights for all citizens.
Taxpayer Rights Outlined by IRS
TABOR states 10 rights that those of us who pay taxes are subject to. This is a list of what we can expect as a result of dealing with the IRS.
The right to be informed
You have the right to know what you need to do in order to comply with tax laws. The right to clear explanations of the law and IRS procedures in all tax forms is something else laid out in TABOR. You also have the right to be informed of IRS decisions about your tax accounts.
As a taxpayer, you can expect to receive prompt, courteous, and professional service. You also have the right to be spoken to in a way which you understand. You may also speak to a supervisor about poor service.
Pay no more than what you legally owe
This one sounds like a no-brainer. However, taxpayers have the right to pay only what they owe in taxes, interest, and penalties. They have the right to expect their payments to be applied properly.
It is within your rights to challenge the IRS and be heard. Providing evidence in response to IRS actions is something you are allowed to do. You can expect the IRS will consider your documentation. You can also expect to receive a fair response if the IRS does not find in your favor.
If you are not satisfied with an IRS decision, you are able to exorcise your right to appeal your case to an impartial and independent IRS office.
This means that you have the right to know how long you have to appeal an IRS decision. You are also entitled to know how long the IRS has to audit a particular tax year or collect a debt. Furthermore, you should know when the IRS has finished an audit.
This means that the IRS is no more intrusive than necessary. During an audit or exam or inquiry, the IRS will respect the law and your rights.
Taxpayers can expect that the IRS be discreet with personal information. Likewise, they can expect appropriate action will be taken against employees or representatives of the IRS who violate taxpayer confidentiality.
Essentially, taxpayers can find somebody to represent them to deal with the IRS. This can be an attorney, a tax professional, or any authorized representative of their choosing. If they cannot afford representation they have the right to get assistance from the low income taxpayer clinic.
Fair and just tax system
As taxpayers, we have the right to have a system that is fair and unbiased. The tax system is supposed to work for our benefit and consider facts and circumstances which might impact liabilities.
We often think of the IRS as the bad guys. We picture them in their cubicles in Washington in bad suits and carrying briefcases and sporting comb-overs and 80’s era plastic glasses. The truth is, the IRS is there to help us. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights is designed to help us understand that we aren’t just dollars to collect–we are people who sometimes need help–whether it is help understanding the documents we received or help securing representation.