The Taxpayers Bill of Rights

Getting your taxes done can be, well, a very taxing job. For many Americans, there is plenty of frustration trying to understand, digest and then comply with the rules and regulations that govern the US tax code. In part, tax-season stress is due to the fact that the tax compliance is so incredibly complex. But beyond that headache and frustration, many taxpayers have an outright fear that they will be hassled and audited by the IRS. They are afraid to do their own taxes for fear of getting in hot water with the government. They are afraid that they may even end up in court!

Do US taxpayers have any remedy for this beyond the due-diligence of honestly and accurately filing the forms that are required?

TBOR, The Taxpayer Bill of Rights

Fortunately, Congress has made some progress in quelling taxpayers’ fears. They established The Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TBOR for short. In summary, it provides guidelines so that taxpayers are treated fairly and respectfully in all their interactions with the Internal Revenue Service.

Ten basic taxpayer rights are incorporated in TBOR:

  • The Right to Be Informed
  • The Right to Be Informed
  • The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax
  • The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard
  • The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum
  • The Right to Finality
  • The Right to Privacy
  • The Right to Confidentiality
  • The Right to Retain Representation
  • The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System

Although many of these appear self-explanatory, a few additional words might be helpful:
These rights were established by Congress to cover each and every taxpayer. By the Right to Quality Service, TBOR means the “right to receive prompt, courteous, and professional assistance in their dealings with the IRS, to be spoken to in a way they can easily understand, to receive clear and easily understandable communications from the IRS, and to speak to a supervisor about inadequate service”. Additionally, The Right to Retain Representation means “the right to retain an authorized representative of their choice to represent them in their dealings with the IRS.

When to Bring in Legal Counsel

Given the incredible complexity of the US tax system, it is inevitable, despite the TBOR, that disagreements and disputes with the IRS will arise. In some cases, legal counsel of your choice, which is right, may be necessary. Some of the most litigated issues pertaining to tax filing include trade or business expenses, accuracy in filing, gross income, passive activity, and charitable deductions, among many others.

What if you disagree with the IRS? What if you question one or more of the IRS’ conclusions related to a legitimate concern? What if you are audited and disagree with the IRS’ findings. Although you are free to handle such concerns without representation, it may be wise to consider competent, knowledgeable legal counsel. When dealing with the IRS, it pays to have experts in your court.