What is the Taxpayer Bill of Rights?
In the National Taxpayer Advocate’s recent report to Congress, violations of the “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” are frequently referenced. What real force do these protections have?
June 10, 2014, the IRS announced its formal adoption of the “Taxpayer Bill of Rights,” which was the top priority of the National Taxpayer Advocate, Nina Olson, in her report the previous year. http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Adopts-Taxpayer-Bill-of-Rights;-10-Provisions-to-be-Highlighted-on-IRSgov,-in-Publication-1. Commissioner Koskinen stated in that release that “These are core concepts about which taxpayers should be aware. 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.” It is implied that these results are already enshrined in the tax code, and this constitutes a visibility campaign, placing them at the front of updated Publication 1, “Your Rights as a Taxpayer,” as well as on irs.gov and on signage in IRS service centers. The provisions of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights are:
Despite the comparison to the U.S. Bill of Rights in the release, neither Publication 1 nor the tax code itself are clear about the recourse available for specific “rights” violations. Taxpayers have specific, enumerated rights with respect to the Collections process and Appeals, most notably the section 6330 right to a hearing before a levy is served. Still, no formalized apparatus recognizes the above rights as sacrosanct or addresses violations thereof.
In her 2014 report to Congress, released January 14, 2015, the National Taxpayer Advocate highlighted this as her number one legislative recommendation: to codify the Taxpayer Bill of Rights and enforceable remedies for violations of those rights. Most of the report and its recommendations address specific existing violations, as the Level of Service predictors we discussed last time constitute violations of the “Right to Quality Service.” For the taxpayer unable to reach the IRS via phone or correspondence, there exists no recourse for violation of that right.
As we continue to survey the Report and its findings and projections, ongoing and expected violations of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights and lack of meaningful remedies will be a theme.