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Posted On July 02, 2016
The Taxpayer Bill of Rights: Why it matters for tax debt

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights: Why it matters for tax debt

Many American colonists didn’t believe King George’s government was hearing their concerns about taxation without representation.

The issues escalated and there was a Boston “tea party.” Eventually, on July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence. And after the Revolutionary War, Congress passed the Bill of Rights, which is the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

On this Fourth of July weekend, we will discuss a different, but also important, Bill of Rights: the Taxpayer Bill of Rights issued by the IRS in 2014.

What is the Taxpayer Bill of Rights?

It is a listing of rights that gives more overt recognition to rights that were already there. Like the original Bill of Rights, there are ten rights enumerated.

Why did the IRS issue this list if it didn’t create any new rights? Was it a publicity stunt?

It wasn’t exactly a publicity stunt. But the IRS has had its struggles in relating well to taxpayers in recent years. Budget cuts have badly eroded the agency’s ability to offer customer service. Phone service, particularly during filing season, has been greatly reduced.

Given these customer service problems, it is scarcely surprising that the second right listed in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights is the right to quality service.

If you have tax debt, which rights are most relevant?

For starters, the very first right in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights is the right to be informed. This means the IRS can’t try to collect tax debt from you out of the blue, without sending proper notices.

Moreover, the fourth right in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights is the right to challenge the IRS and be heard. For example, in cases involving tax debt, taxpayers have certain collection due process rights.

It is worthwhile to be reminded of these hard-earned rights as we celebrate the Fourth of July.