Tax Payer Bill of Rights Cleans Up IRS Image
NEW YORK (MainStreet) The federal government is once again attempting to soften Uncle Sam's image.
Last week, the Internal Revenue Service announced its adoption of a Taxpayer Bill of Rights, a list of ten rights for taxpayers, including the right to pay only what's owed in taxes. The goal, according to the IRS, is to help taxpayers understand their rights, which are buried in the tax code.
The rights are nothing new, but most taxpayers are unaware of this fact, according to the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent office that resides inside the IRS and represents U.S. taxpayers.
"We have had a Taxpayer Bill of Right for years," says Bill Farmer, an enrolled agent. "When things got bad in the late 1990's we got a second bill of rights, conveniently enough called the Taxpayer Bill of Rights II (TABOR2). I have received and thrown away thousands of copies in my 20 years as an EA."
Nina E. Olson, who heads up the Taxpayer Advocate Service, said in a press release that Congress has passed numerous 'Taxpayer Bill of Rights,' but believes that this new list of core rights "will help taxpayers better understand their rights in dealing with the tax system." Listed are the following rights:
- 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
"Yes, we all have the right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax, but that doesn't mean that the IRS might incorrectly calculate taxes or additional taxes and they would consider those correct until you prove otherwise," says Bob Wheeler, CPA and CEO of RWWCPA.com.
"This is just another attempt of the IRS trying to show that they are again, the kinder, gentler IRS," Wheeler says. He thinks it's more of a public relations strategy.
Wheeler may be right.
In his remarks to the press, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said that he was concerned the IRS did not have adequate funding to fulfill all of the taxpayers rights, pointing out that IRS's budget has been cut by more than $850 million since 2010.
"These reductions greatly complicate the work we do to ensure that we provide quality service, which is one of the 10 fundamental taxpayer rights," he said.
--Written by S.Z. Berg for MainStreet