Did you know there's a Taxpayer Bill of Rights?

In the United States, there is a long tradition and strong belief in promoting and protecting the rights of individual citizens. Provisions related to these protections are included in important documents like the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights which provide the basis for many of today's laws, lawsuits and civil and criminal defenses. However, until very recently, individual U.S. citizens were largely at the mercy of and expected to abide by the terms dictated by the Internal Revenue Service.

In an effort to improve its public image and commitment to "provide America's taxpayers top quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities," in 2014, the IRS introduced a Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

While some may be skeptical of the IRS's sincerity in introducing the Taxpayer Bill of Rights and about the document's authenticity, its contents provide taxpayers with important rights that may be invoked to dispute tax-related disputes. Among those rights outlined in the document are the rights to be informed, to pay no more than the correct amount owed, challenge and appeal the IRS's position and to expect a fair and just tax system.

At face value, it appears as though the IRS is making a real effort to improve its services to taxpayers and how tax disputes are resolved. Doubts remain, however, as to whether or not the agency will be able to deliver on these promises as it continues to be targeted by the republican house and senate for budget cuts. For example, since 2010, the IRS's budget has been reduced by seven percent or $850 million.

Taxpayers who are dealing with a tax dispute and who believe that the IRS has failed in fulfilling its obligations as dictated by the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, may choose to consult with an attorney.

Source: Forbes, "What the Taxpayer Bill of Rights Means for You," Kathryn Hauer, Sept. 18, 2015

IRS.gov, "The Agency, its Mission and Statutory Authority," Sept. 22, 2015


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