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March 2014
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Federal lawmakers weigh in on a “Taxpayer Bill of Rights”


Proposed changes to the U.S. tax code could help protect taxpayer rights, especially with regard to IRS audits.

March 07, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ — The U.S. House of Representatives recently approved a pair of bills that some commentators have described as a Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The House voted on February 25, 2014 in favor of the legislation, which will now go before the Senate.


The first of the bills, known as the Taxpayer Transparency and Efficiency Audit Act (TTEAA), or H.R. 2530, would set new standards for efficiency and transparency for the Internal Revenue Service in its correspondence with taxpayers regarding certain tax controversies.

Specifically, if passed into law, the TTEAA would impose a one-year limit on IRS audit procedures, thus preventing tax audits from dragging on for years at a time. It would also create a new “30-day rule” requiring the IRS to process audit claims more quickly and respond to taxpayer correspondence in a timely manner. The proposed law would require the agency to provide a substantive response in writing within 30 days after receiving information from a taxpayer during an IRS audit, or else drop the claim. Under current IRS procedures, taxpayers often must wait months for a substantive reply.


In addition to creating stricter time limits for the IRS in its interactions with taxpayers, the TTEAA would also give taxpayers a right to know how their information is used after it is submitted to the IRS. If passed, this measure would require the IRS to inform taxpayers when it shares their data with other federal, state or local government agencies.

Privacy and objectivity

The second bill, called the Protecting Taxpayers from Intrusive IRS Requests Act, or H.R. 2531, would prohibit the IRS from questioning taxpayers about their political, social or religious beliefs except under certain circumstances. If the IRS determines that such questions are necessary, the proposed law would require the agency to make a verbatim disclosure of the questions to Congress, and to identify the class of taxpayers to be questioned as well as the circumstances under which they would be asked. This measure would help protect taxpayers from biased treatment by the IRS.

Other rights for taxpayers

In a report to Congress in January 2014, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson called for the implementation of a comprehensive Taxpayer Bill of Rights, saying that such a measure would increase taxpayer trust in the IRS and improve voluntary compliance with federal tax laws. Although the pending legislation is more narrowly focused than Olson’s proposed Taxpayer Bill of Rights, it could nevertheless be an important first step toward enumerating the rights of taxpayers.

As Olson explained in her report to Congress, taxpayers do have a number of important rights under the existing tax laws. However, because these rights are dispersed throughout the tax code and are not presented in an accessible and comprehensive manner, many taxpayers are unaware of their rights or how to exercise them. According to a 2012 survey conducted by the IRS’s Taxpayer Advocate Service, only 11 percent of taxpayers surveyed said they know what their rights are with regard to the IRS, while fewer than half said they believed they had any taxpayer rights at all.

Legal help for tax issues

Whether facing an audit or other tax controversy, or simply seeking to ensure compliance with the tax code as a precautionary measure, individuals and businesses with questions about their taxpayer rights are encouraged to seek help from an experienced tax lawyer. Note that the IRS has their ranks of technical tax specialists and attorneys. You need to have representation as well to ensure your taxpayer rights are acknowledged and respected.

Article provided by Bredemann & McFarlane, PLC
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