Tax Audit, Tax Payments

You Have Rights as a Taxpayer

Transfer of money from hands in handsWhen you are being audited you might not realize that you do have rights as a taxpayer. The mission of the Internal Revenue Service is to “provide America’s taxpayers top quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities and by applying the tax law with integrity and fairness to all.” With recent events in the news these past couple of years, we might think the IRS has lost sight of its mission. But when YOU are the taxpayer being audited you need to remember that you have taxpayer rights. The mission of the auditor is not to assess more tax. The examiner’s job is to determine if you have paid the proper amount of tax. If it is decided that you do owe tax, they will ask you right then how you would like to pay your balance due. They will ask you if you can pay i full or if you need to make arrangements to pay. It is the job of the IRS Collector, or Revenue Officer, to collect the tax that remains unpaid. You can pay your tax by check payable to the United States Treasury or pay by direct debit from your bank account. If you’d like to pay by credit card be ready to pay a convenience fee because the IRS does not pay the normal retailer’s merchant fee. I do not recommend you pay with cash. You want a receipt to prove how much you paid and when you paid it. Cash just offers a temptation for human theft at any of the levels in the employee chain. You may find yourself in a position where you are unable to pay your tax. Depending on your financial situation, the Revenue Officer may be able to put your account in what they call currently not collectible status. They will review your uncollectible status at a future determined date to see if your ability to pay has changed. The IRS has published their Declaration of Taxpayer Rights. It reads as follows:

“1. Protection of Your Rights. IRS employees will explain and protect your rights as a taxpayer throughout your contact with us.

“2. Privacy and Confidentiality. The IRS will not disclose to anyone the information you give us. You have the right to know why we are asking you for information, how we will use it, and what happens if you do not provide requested information.

“3. Professional and Courteous Service. If you believe that an IRS employee has not treated you in a professional, fair, and courteous manner, you should tell that employee’s supervisor. If the supervisor’s response is not satisfactory, you should write to the IRS director for your area or the center where you file your return.”

Everyone at every level has a supervisor. It is your right to request to talk with their supervisor. These are just the first three of the IRS’ Declaration of Taxpayer Rights. Next week I’ll deal with just Taxpayer Right number four, Representation.