Fear Not

IRS Adopts “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” 10 Provisions to be Highlighted on IRS.gov, in Publication 1, was the headline of the June 10, 2014 IRS Newswire, an email newsletter published by the Internal Revenue Service. The article begins:

IR-2014-72 June 10, 2014

WASHINGTON ― The Internal Revenue Service today announced the adoption of a “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” that will become a cornerstone document to provide the nation’s taxpayers with a better understanding of their rights.

Publication 1, “Your Rights as a Taxpayer,” has been updated with the 10 rights and will be sent to millions of taxpayers this year when they receive IRS notices on issues ranging from audits to collection. The rights will also be publicly visible in all IRS facilities for taxpayers and employees to see.

Publication 1 (Rev. June 2014)





Reading this article you would think that the Taxpayer Bill of Rights was a new idea created by the Internal Revenue Services and they were doing everybody a new and great service. The IRS is doing every taxpayer a great service when they abide by the Taxpayer Bill of Rights and they are doing a great service by publishing and educating taxpayers about their rights. However, it is always beneficial to know a little history.

The first time a taxpayers’ rights were addressed, before the IRS published it formally as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, was with the passage of the Technical and Miscellaneous Revenue Act of 1988 (TAMRA). The idea was birthed as a result of Senate hearings in 1987 on abuses of power by the IRS. The bill’s principal sponsor was the U.S. Senator from Arkansas, David Pryor, Chairman of the IRS Oversight Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee.

The 1988 Taxpayer Bill of Rights wasn’t a sweeping change in law or IRS procedures, but it did add certain protective provisions such as making it illegal for the IRS to evaluate their employees based on production quotas, allowed the IRS to enter into written installment payment agreements with taxpayers and provided expansion of tax court remedies.

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights isn’t new, but it is important for taxpayers to know there are laws and regulations that the IRS has to work within. As a tax professional that works with clients and their correspondence or examinations with the IRS, I can say the great majority of the time the IRS agents and officers behave professionally and are respectful of taxpayers. However an agency of almost 100,000 employees is not immune to hiring a jerk once in a while. If you win the lottery and end up working with a jerk, this is when you need to know that you have legal rights when working with the IRS.

The newly revised Taxpayer Bill of Rights are found in Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer available from the IRS.gov website. Publication 1 identifies your 10 rights as:

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

IRS Publication is short and doesn’t take much time to read. As with any protection, if you don’t know what laws and protections exist for you, they are not much use.

1989 Taxpayer Bill of Rights, by Lawrence B. Gibbs
Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer, IRS.gov