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IRS commits to a bill of rights for taxpayers

The original Bill of Rights in the United States is the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. These rights, such as freedom of the press and free exercise of religion, have been cornerstones of our country ever since.

Given that the concept of a bill of rights is so well established in America, it makes sense for an organization like the IRS to adopt the term in a more specific context.

In this post, we will take note of the IRS's recent announcement that it has issued a bill of rights for taxpayers.

The National Taxpayer Advocate called the move an important symbolic step. It should not only remind taxpayers that they have rights against the IRS. It should also remind the IRS of the importance of respecting those rights.

Just as the original Bill of Rights contained 10 amendments to the Constitution, the IRS has grouped the taxpayer bill of rights into 10 sections.

We won't list every one of them here. But let's highlight a couple of them.

One of the 10 rights that the IRS has committed to respecting is the right to quality service. That right has been under strain in recent years due to the IRS's shrinking budget.

With fewer resources, the IRS has not been able to offer the level of customer service that it once did. We discussed that issue in our March 11 post.

Another of the taxpayer rights that the IRS has committed to is the right to challenge the agency's position and be heard. This right to challenge the IRS is important to know about, because it can have an effect on how taxpayers deal with the agency in audits, appeals and other interactions.

This is especially so given the fact that many people don't know their rights. Indeed, a 2012 survey showed that only about 11 percent of taxpayers actually know what their rights are.

Source: SF Gate, "IRS publishes 'bill of rights' for taxpayers (and its employees)," Kathleen Pender, June 10, 2014

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