Although taxpayers may not realize it, they have clear rights when it comes to dealing with the IRS. These rights are embedded within the Internal Revenue Code, and are summarized in what the IRS calls the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
Among the basic rights that belong to taxpayers are the rights to pay no more than the correct amount of tax they owe, the right to challenge the IRS’s position, and the right to appeal an IRS decision in an independent forum. The latter two rights encompass not only taxpayers’ right to raise objections with the IRS and provide additional documentation, but also taxpayers’ right to seek a fair and impartial administrative appeal of IRS decisions and, if necessary, the right to take the case to federal court.
Tax decisions reached by IRS examiners may, in the first place, be appealed to local appeals offices. These offices are independent from the IRS Office which conducts the examination, which is supposed to ensure they render fair and impartial decisions. As part of the appeals process, a taxpayer must file either a “small case request” or a “formal written protest” with the contact person named in their notice in order to participate in an appeals conference.
It is important for taxpayers to be represented by skilled legal counsel at tax appeals conferences, since this is the stage at which many cases will be resolved and having an advocate is critical for ensuring a good outcome.
In our next post, we’ll look at the difference between small case requests and formal protests, and how an experienced attorney can help advocate for a taxpayer at this stage of the appeals process.
Source: IRS, Your Rights as a Taxpayer, Publication 1.