Nearly 240 years ago, the United States was founded on the premise that government power must not go unchecked. To this day, in high school civics classes, students have it drilled into them that ours is a system of checks and balances.
This is supposed to be the case with tax law as much as in any other area. And so, this month, the IRS has seen fit to remind taxpayer of their right to challenge the IRS’s position in a tax dispute and to be given a fair hearing when doing so. In this post, we will discuss that right.
The right to challenge the IRS has been implicit in the tax code all along. So have many other rights that taxpayers have. But last year, the IRS tried to give these rights more explicit recognition by committing to a Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
We wrote about this in our June 18 post. The “Bill of Rights’ language was deliberately chosen, as a way to put people’s rights vis-à-vis the IRS in the context of the famed Bill of Rights – the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
So what are some of the specific protections that go along with the right the challenge the IRS and to be heard?
For one thing, as a taxpayer you have a 60-day period in which to respond to a notice by the IRS about any computational or clerical errors in your return. You also have a right to provide further documentation for your position.
Once you have done this, the IRS should give proper consideration to your position. If the IRS does not agree with it, you have a right to get a response anyway.
But even if the IRS sends you a notice of deficiency that proposes an adjustment to your tax liability, that is not the end of the matter. As a taxpayer, you also have certain Collections Due Process rights, as we discussed in our January 13 post.