LAW OF THE LAND: Taxpayer Bill of Rights: The Right to Be Informed

William L. "Bill" Martin III Issues

In response to a number of issues, the Internal Revenue Service adopted a “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” (TBOR) in 2014. In all, the TBOR spells out 10 rights for Taxpayers. This article explores the first of those rights – “The Right to Be Informed.”

Under The Right to Be Informed, taxpayers have the right to know what they need to do to comply with the tax laws. They are entitled to clear explanations of the laws and IRS procedures in all tax forms, instructions, publications, notices and correspondence. They have the right to be informed of IRS decisions about their tax accounts and to receive clear explanations of the outcomes.

If you receive a notice that back taxes are due, the notice must include the amount of the tax, interest, and penalties, and a clear explanation of why the IRS is claiming that you owe the money. If the IRS is going to assess a tax against you, it must inform you of your right to a review by an independent Office of Appeals and an explanation of the entire process from examination through collection.

If the IRS decides to allow a refund, it must give a detailed explanation of the specific reason or reasons for its decision. Under certain circumstances, the IRS will enter into a payment plan that allows you to pay your back taxes over a period of time. In those circumstances, the IRS must send you an annual statement that details how much you owe at the beginning of the year, how much you paid during the year and how much you owe end of the year.

Not only is the IRS setting forth these rights for taxpayers, it has shared these rights extensively with its employees on a continuing basis. The IRS is also committed to ensuring that taxpayers are not discriminated against based on race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, sexual orientation, religion, or parental status. If you believe you have been discriminated against, you have the right to file a written complaint with the IRS.

About the Author
William L.

William L. "Bill" Martin III

Bill Martin is a former United States Air Force pilot and senior attorney for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. He is currently a partner in the law firm of Keefe, Anchors & Gordon in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.