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Understanding the IRS' obligations under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights - III

Now that April 18 -- the deadline for filing with the IRS -- is less than two weeks away, those who have yet to prepare their returns should seriously consider sitting down to crunch their 2015 numbers sooner than later. Indeed, the reality is that the more rushed a person is to complete their tax return, the greater the likelihood that they'll make some sort of mistake and raise red flags at the agency.

Even though this is an understandably unnerving proposition, it's important for taxpayers to remember that if this happens, they are not at the mercy of the IRS and protected under the "Taxpayer Bill of Rights," something we've been examining in previous posts.

In today's post, we'll finish exploring these rights.

The right to privacy

This provision establishes that any investigation, examination and/or enforcement action undertaken by the IRS must not only be legally complaint and minimally intrusive, but also respectful of taxpayers' due process rights. This includes observing search and seizure protections under the Fourth Amendment.

The right to confidentiality

This provision dictates that the generally sensitive information provided by taxpayers to the IRS will not be disclosed absent authorization from the law or the taxpayers themselves. Furthermore, it provides that taxpayers have the right to expect that the necessary disciplinary measures will be taken against agency employees who either wrongfully disclose or utilize this confidential information.

The right to a fair and just tax system

This provision outlines how taxpayers have the right to anticipate that the tax system will consider all relevant factors and circumstances that could influence their ability to pay, provide information in a timely manner and/or their debt. It also grants taxpayers the right to seek assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service in the event the agency fails to resolve the underlying tax matter promptly and/or properly.  

The right to retain representation

This provision grants taxpayers the critical right to retain the services of a legal professional of their choosing to protect their rights during any dealings with the agency. Equally important, it establishes that indigent taxpayers have the right to seek legal help from the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.

Those who have been contacted by the IRS should take solace in the forgoing discussion, as it clearly establishes that they are by no means powerless. If you would like to learn more about your taxpayer rights, please consider speaking with a skilled legal professional.

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