Know Your Taxpayer Rights

Taxpayer rights are listed in Publication 1 as follows:

  1. Privacy and Confidentiality
  2. Professional and Courteous Service
  3. Representation
  4. Payment of Only the Correct Amount of Tax
  5. Help with Unresolved Tax Problems
  6. Appeals and Judicial Review
  7. Relief from Certain Penalties and Interest

There are actually 8 taxpayer rights, but the first one is a complete farce.  The first is entitled “Protection of Your Rights” in Pub 1, and it is described as follows:

IRS employees will explain and protect your rights as a taxpayer throughout your contact with us.

If that were really true then you would not need right #3 — you would never need a tax attorney — because the IRS would have your back every step of the way.  You wouldn’t need right #5 because there would be no unresolved tax problems.  And you wouldn’t need rights #6 or #7 because the IRS would always get it right the first time.

The truth is the IRS’ top priority is to collect 100% of the tax due, not protect your rights.   And they will make this abundantly clear throughout your contact with them.  That’s why the most important right is to have professional representation — just as tax relief is not automatic, your taxpayer rights are not self-enforcing.

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