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Soon We May Have More Taxpayer Rights, Less IRS Abuse of Power

Taxpayer-Bill-of-RightsThe massive might of the IRS may soon have less power over taxpayers. Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and John Thune (R-SD) have proposed a new Taxpayer Bill of Rights Enhancement, with a list of improvement designed to protect taxpayers and hold the IRS accountable for abusive behavior.

As an enhancement to the current Taxpayer Bill of Rights there are a host of improvements. But, first, it’s important for taxpayers to know that they have a bill of rights, which is being improved. The current Taxpayer Bill of Rights includes the fundamental right of the taxpayer to ask and be informed about what is going on in their tax exam, to know what the issues are that the IRS has, the right to be heard, to appeal any decision and to be informed as to when the exam will be over as well as to expect confidentiality. As a representative for taxpayers, the Taxpayer Bill of Righs is very useful when dealing with IRS agents and managers. The enhanced provisions are going to be even more helpful. The following is an edited list from a recent Forbes article.

These are a few of the proposed enhancements.

First, and foremost, the new Taxpayer Bill of Rights will require that all IRS employees are familiar with and act in accord with the IRS’ announced “Taxpayer Bill of Rights.” The IRS agents and representatives cannot claim ignorance.
Second, a new provision makes it easier for taxpayers to enter into an installment agreement (waiver of user fee when taxpayer agrees to automatic withdrawals) or have an offers-in-compromise agreed to (no longer requiring chief counsel review for offers in compromise of over $50,000).
Third, this is exciting: interest runs immediately both when the IRS owes the taxpayer money and when the taxpayer owes the IRS money (currently the IRS has 45 days to refund an overpayment without paying interest). The taxpayer owes interest immediately on the amount of taxes owed if not paid when filing taxes.
Fourth, This provision allows the Treasury Inspector General for Tax administration to tell a taxpayer the results of an investigation involving the rights of the taxpayer.
Fifth, in regards to electronic filing requires the IRS to continue to provide current free file programs (in cooperation with the private sector) to the elderly and low-income; also required electronic filing for exempt organizations.

In addition, the new legislation would require the IRS to have in place of electronic record retention. There would be heightened penalties for unauthorized disclosure of taxpayer information and prohibitions on IRS officers and employees using personal email accounts to conduct business.

It’s always great news when the taxpayer is protected against the massive and powerful IRS. The abuse of power has taken its toll on too many taxpaying Americans and I look forward to the day when the IRS is truly held accountable and made to treat citizens with the respect they deserve.

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