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IRS Unveils Taxpayer Bill of Rights

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By Jackie Jacobs

Last month the IRS  announced the adoption of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.  According to the IRS, the document is intended to provide American taxpayers with a better understanding of their rights.

The document is called Publication 1, “Your Rights as a Taxpayer.”  It will be sent to millions of taxpayers when they receive IRS notices on issues ranging from audits to collection. The IRS says the Taxpayer Bill of Rights document will also be publicly visible in all IRS facilities on posters the IRS is having printed up.

The document consists of 10 rights.  While the document is new, the 10 rights are not new.  They are existing rights already in the tax code.  The IRS has grouped them into 10 categories and made them easier to find and easier to read.

And it all fits on just one page.  Considering that the U.S tax code is nearly 4 million words long, it’s a public service just to summarize the rights down to a single page.

The new Taxpayer Bill of Rights has 10 principles.

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

“These are core concepts about which taxpayers should be aware,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “Respecting taxpayer rights continues to be a top priority for IRS employees, and the new Taxpayer Bill of Rights summarizes these important protections in a clearer, more understandable format than ever before.”

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights is a welcome step forward. If the IRS questions your tax return or a deduction, you have a clear right to pay only the correct amount of tax. Any taxpayer also may challenge the IRS, must be heard by IRS representatives, may appeal a decision and may have his or her selected representative. This clear statement of the taxpayers’ rights is good for both the IRS and all Americans.

Jackie Jacobs is the Chief Executive Officer of the Columbus Jewish Foundation, the Central Ohio Jewish community’s planned giving and endowment.

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