Understanding Taxpayer Rights when Dealing with the IRS by Edward N. Cooper, CPA

Posted on February 09, 2017 by Edward Cooper

A notice from the IRS rarely results in a taxpayer feeling joy or relief. However, U.S. tax laws are complex and constantly evolving, making it difficult for individuals to understand their responsibilities and liabilities under the tax code. In response, the IRS issued a Taxpayer Bill of Rights that details the protections and privileges afforded to taxpayers when dealing with the agency.

The Right to Be Informed. Taxpayers have a right to receive clear, easy-to-understand explanations about IRS procedures, laws and notices as well as how IRS decisions will affect their tax accounts.

The Right to Quality Service. Taxpayers have a right to receive prompt, courteous and professional assistance when dealings with the IRS and the freedom to speak to a supervisor when they consider service to be below par.

The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax. Taxpayers have the right to pay only the amount of tax legally due, including interest and penalties. They should also expect the IRS to apply all tax payments properly.

The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard. Taxpayers have the right to object to formal IRS actions or proposed actions and provide justification with additional documentation. They should expect that the IRS will consider their timely objections and documentation promptly and fairly and provide them with a timely response.

The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum. Taxpayers are entitled to appeal IRS decisions and receive a written response. They also have the right to take their cases to a court of law.

The Right to Finality. Taxpayers have the right to know the maximum amount of time they have to challenge an IRS position and the maximum amount of time the IRS has to audit a particular tax year or collect a tax debt. They also have a right to know when the IRS concludes an audit.

The Right to Privacy. Taxpayers have the right to expect that any IRS inquiry, examination or enforcement action will comply with privacy laws and be no more intrusive than necessary. They should also expect due process rights, including search and seizure protections.

The Right to Confidentiality. Taxpayers have the right to expect that the IRS will keep their tax information confidential and take appropriate action should the IRS disclose any information.

The Right to Retain Representation. Taxpayers have the right to retain an authorized representative of their choice to represent them in their dealings with the IRS.

The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System. Taxpayers have the right to expect fairness from the tax system, including consideration of all facts and circumstances that might affect their underlying liabilities, ability to pay or ability to provide information timely. Taxpayers experiencing financial difficulty or having challenges resolving tax issues in a timely manner and through proper channels have the right to receive assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service.

The advisors and accountants with Berkowitz Pollack Brant help individuals and business comply with relevant domestic and international tax laws and have extensive experience representing then before taxing authorities.


About the Author: Edward N. Cooper, CPA, is director-in-charge of Tax Services with Berkowitz Pollack Brant, where he provides business- and tax-consulting services to real estate entities, multi-national companies, investment funds and high-net-worth individuals. He can be reached at the CPA firm’s Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., office at (954) 712-7000 or via email at