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A warm and fuzzy IRS? Agency announces taxpayers' Bill of Rights

Symbolic but meaningful.

That’s the message the Internal Revenue Service is seeking to convey to taxpayers in California and nationally regarding its recently released “Taxpayer Bill of Rights.”

Do we really need such a thing?

Apparently so, given the sheer degree to which many Americans experience sheer angst and trepidation when interacting at all with the IRS. What centrally marks many of those encounters is, sadly, a misconception regarding the agency.

That misconception is this: The agency is essentially free to throw its weight around, terrify taxpayers and issue ultimatums that can never be challenged.

Such notions are far from truth, but, given the assessment of national Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson that, “Only 46% of taxpayers believe they have rights,” many IRS critics have long contended that the agency needs to step forward with some sort of rhetoric to calm jumpy taxpayers.

Thus, the Bill of Rights, issued earlier this week. The document doesn’t actually state anything new or have enforcement teeth to back it up, but agency officials say it is a positive move that will go far toward educating taxpayers.

As to what is specifically contained among the enumerated rights, simple logic prevails. Taxpayers have a right to know what the IRS is asking or challenging them about. They have a right to contest an agency position and to go up the chain of command if they’re not getting answers. They have due privacy rights.

And, yes, they have a right to retain a tax lawyer to intercede with the IRS on their behalf. When exercised, that right often results in optimal outcomes for taxpayers.

A proven tax lawyer with long-tenured experience dealing with the IRS can fully protect the legal rights of a client and fully promote his or her interests in any tax-related matter.

Source: USA TODAY, "The IRS wants to read you your rights," Gregory Korte, June 10, 2014

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