The IRS announced the adoption of a “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” Tuesday. I have listed the rights below along with my commentary. Just like our U.S. Constitutional Rights, these “rights” are and will be watered down.
All of us have certain rights we feel strongly about. For instance, folks here in Texas are very concerned about guarding their rights under the Second Amendment as the Open Carry Texas movement demonstrates.
Others feel that guarding our rights under the Fourth Amendment (unreasonable searches and seizures) is important. Seems like the Fourth Amendment doesn’t even exist anymore given recent Supreme Court Decisions. Here is an article from the New Republic about a recent case and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent.
It seems like at every turn our rights are being watered down.
But when it comes to watering down rights - no one is better than the IRS. Here is the list:
1. The right to be informed.
This usually means the IRS will let you know what they want you to know and when the want to want you to know it.
2. The right to quality service.
Anyone who has called the IRS lately knows that they can anticipate being on hold for 20, 30, 40 minutes, or even longer. Quality service and the IRS are opposites these days.
3. The right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax.
In my view, IRS auditors are “advocates” for taxpayers paying more than what they should.
4. The right to challenge IRS’s position and be heard.
Generally, taxpayers have rights to challenge the IRS’s position – unless the IRS really doesn’t like the person.
5. The right to appeal an IRS decision in an independent forum.
IRS Appeals Officers are supposed to be fair and balanced. But, just like Fox News or MSNBC – they have substantial biases.
6. The right to finality.
This reminds me of the adage from Ben Franklin, “But in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
7. The right to privacy.
The IRS is generally over-concerned about privacy issues. For instance, emailing the IRS is a major ordeal because they are worried that someone in cyberspace is going to intercept the information. Fax on the other hand is just fine (though I am certain those can be intercepted as well).
8. The right to confidentiality.
This goes hand-in-hand with my privacy comment.
9. The right to retain representation.
Generally the IRS respects the IRS Power of Attorney and will deal only with your authorized representative. Unless they don’t like your authorized representative, in which case they will bypass them and go straight to you.
10. The right to a fair and just tax system.
I think the Tea Party would disagree that this is the case today.