Know Your Taxpayer Bill of Rights

In IRS adopted the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights in 2014. Making taxpayers aware of these rights is vitally important for the taxpayers’ well-being. These ten rights assist taxpayers in their interactions with the IRS. They also provide clarity on the IRS’s powers and limitations when it comes to handling taxpayers’ taxes.

Even though the taxpayer may owe taxes and have problems with taxes, the IRS must follow guidelines, policies, and treat taxpayers fairly.

Here is an overview of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights

​Right to Be Informed 

When taxpayers receive any form of communication indicating there is an issue with their taxes, the IRS must explain what is needed to adhere to the tax laws. This is not something that the taxpayer should need to research. The IRS must explain tax laws and procedures for tax forms, instructions, publications, notices, and correspondence clearly.

The IRS is required to notify the taxpayer about any decisions made regarding their account. They must also provide a clear explanation of the factors that influenced the decision. When properly informed of the situation, there should not be any surprises or left in the dark.

The Right to Quality Service

Taxpayers are to be treated with a high level of customer service. When dealing with the IRS, the interaction should be one that is courteous, prompt, and of a professional attitude. This includes being contacted at reasonable hours between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.

The IRS should communicate clearly and make sure instructions are easy to understand. Taxpayers can make a complaint if they think the service provided was inadequate or unprofessional.

The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax

Taxpayers should pay only what they owe in taxes, and the IRS must correctly manage all tax payments. The IRS must provide a notice of deficiency or proposal of change if they want to change the amount of tax you owe.

The notice should provide the right to challenge the proposed changes in Tax Court without first paying the adjusted amount. The taxpayer can file for a refund if they feel they have overpaid the taxes. If the IRS is charging interest because of delays on their part, the taxpayer can request to have the charges removed.

The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard

When the IRS suggests actions or proposals, the taxpayer can disagree and offer more evidence to support their stance. The IRS is obligated to consider the objections and documentation promptly and in a fair manner.

The IRS must respond with a notice of deficiency explaining why the tax increase is taking place. The taxpayer has the right to petition the Tax Court if they do not agree with the increase.

The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum

In the majority of cases involving IRS decisions, such as various penalties, taxpayers are entitled to exercise their right to a just and unbiased administrative appeal process. They also have the right to receive a written response from the Office of Appeals regarding the decision. Even if the case loses in appeals, the taxpayer generally retains the right to bring the case to court.

Right to Finality

The taxpayer has the right to know exactly how much time they have to dispute the position of the IRS, and the amount of time the IRS has to either audit a specific tax year or collect a tax liability. The IRS must inform the taxpayer when an audit has been completed.

  • Typically, the IRS has a period of three years starting from the day you file your return to calculate and collect any extra taxes that might be due for that specific year. This time limit does not apply when the taxpayer fails to file a return, files a false or fraudulent return. Under these circumstances the IRS has unlimited to assess the tax for that year.
  • Typically, the IRS has a period of ten years to recover outstanding taxes from the assessment The IRS cannot extend this period unless the taxpayer agrees to extend the period as part of an installment agreement to pay off liability or the IRS has received a court judgment. But there are circumstances where the ten-year collection period can be suspended and picked up where it left off. An example would be when there is a bankruptcy filed or a collection due process proceeding.
  • It is available to file for a refund if the taxpayer feels that they overpaid on taxes. This should be filed within a three-year period from the date the original return was filed, or two years from the date the tax was paid, whichever is later.
  • Any notice received from the IRS requesting an additional tax due must include the date by which the taxpayer has in order to file a petition to challenge the additional amount in Tax Court.
  • Generally, the taxpayer is subject to an audit/examination only once per tax year, but exams from previous years may be reopened if the IRS deems necessary. An example of this would be when there is evidence of fraud.

Right to Privacy

Taxpayers can expect that any inquiry, examination or enforcement action on the part of the IRS will comply with law and be no more intrusive than warranted. All due process rights will be adhered to.

  • The IRS is limited to how much wages can be levied. The amount of standard deductions and personal exemptions are protected from levy.
  • Some personal items cannot be seized, such as schoolbooks, clothing, and a certain amount of furniture and household items. A taxpayer’s personal residence cannot be seized without court approval, and it must show that there is no other reasonable alternative for collecting the debt.
  • Without any reasonable indication that the taxpayer has unreported income, the IRS is not allowed to seek intrusive lifestyle information.
  • If a taxpayer makes an offer to pay only what is owed in a doubt as to liability offer in compromise, full financial disclosure need not be made.

Right to Confidentiality

 Information that is provided to the IRS by the taxpayer is expected to be kept undisclosed to other parties unless authorized by the taxpayer or required by law. Taxpayers have the right to see that anyone found wrongfully disclosing their information has appropriate actions taken against them.

  • Without taxpayer’s consent the IRS has no right to disclose tax information to third parties.
  • Third parties such as employers, neighbors, or financial institutes are not to be contacted by the IRS in an effort obtain information about adjusting or collecting the taxpayer liability without a notice in advance.
  • Taxpayers can expect from federally authorized practitioners such as enrolled agents, the same confidentiality of that of an attorney-client relation. These confidential communications include:

Advise on tax matters that fall within the scope of the tax practitioner’s authority to practice before the IRS – Would be confidential between and attorney and clients – Related to noncriminal tax matters before the IRS – or relate to noncriminal tax proceedings brought in federal court by or against the United States.

Right to Retain Representation

Taxpayers have the right to retain authorized representative of their choice to represent them before all levels of the IRS in resolving whatever tax issue they have. In case the taxpayer has limited financial resources, they are entitled to request aid from a Low Income Clinic.

  • ​The taxpayer can select an authorized representative such as an attorney, certified public accountant, or an enrolled agent to represent and stand in for you at any interview with the IRS, unless the taxpayer received a formal summons to appear before the IRS.
  • The taxpayer has the right to consult with a representative, and the IRS in most situations is required to suspend an interview.
  • Anyone permitted to represent the taxpayer and has not been disbarred or suspended from practice before the IRS, may submit a written power of attorney to represent a taxpayer before the IRS.
  • With low-income taxpayers, they have the right to ask a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic for representation for no or minimal cost.

The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System

​The taxpayer has the right to expect a just tax system that takes into consideration both fact and circumstances that could have an effect on the tax liabilities at hand, the ability to pay the liabilities, or provide information in a timely manner. When faced with financial difficulties or the IRS is not providing proper or timely resolve to the tax issues through the normal channels used in dealing with the IRS.

  • ​If the taxpayer cannot pay debt in full, and certain conditions are met, the taxpayer has the right to enter into a payment plan.
  • An offer in compromise may be submitted to pay less than full payment if you believe that you do not owe the amount assessed, if you are unable to pay the amount in the time allotted, or if paying the full amount would result in financial hardship.
  • National and local cost of living expense guidelines are not to be used if the result of using the guidelines causes the inability to pay basic living expenses. Actual expenses will be used instead.
  • The IRS is not allowed to seize all wages in order to collect unpaid taxes. There must be a portion allowed to support living expenses.
  • The IRS may abate a portion of tax debts that is excessive in amount, assessed after the statutory period of limitations has expired, or is erroneously or illegally assessed.
  • If an IRS employee caused an unreasonable delay or error resulting in the underpayment of taxes owed by the taxpayer, the IRS may abate the interest penalty.

If you have any questions regarding the Taxpayer Bill of Rights in San Jose, CA feel free to contact me at (408) 684-8505 or email me at