This week, the Internal Revenue Service adopted a “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” that takes some of the existing rights that are already part of the Tax Code and groups them into 10 broad categories, making them more visible and supposedly a little easier for taxpayers to find.
Those rather vague rights include:
1. The Right to Be Informed
2. The Right to Quality Service
3. The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax
4. The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard
5. The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum
6. The Right to Finality
7. The Right to Privacy
8. The Right to Confidentiality
9. The Right to Retain Representation
10. The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System
After IRS Commissioner John Koskinen and National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson announced the new Bill of Rights on Tuesday, several Accounting Today readers pointed out that they were under the impression that the IRS already had a Taxpayer Bill of Rights (see IRS Adopts Taxpayer Bill of Rights). Indeed, the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 is also known as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights III, suggesting that there were two more iterations of the Bill of Rights prior to 1998.
In addition, a number of states have moved to enact a Taxpayer Bill of Rights of their own, most prominently in Colorado, which approved a “TABOR” referendum in 1992 that restricted state and local governments’ ability to raise taxes and spend beyond their means without getting the approval of voters. The restrictions were later loosened via another voter referendum in 2005. Colorado’s example led a number of anti-tax groups to pursue similar initiatives in other states and municipalities, with varying success.
That got us thinking about how the IRS might go beyond the initial Taxpayer Bill of Rights through the amendment process sometime down the road, but preferably before next tax season. Here are some other proposals:
1. The Right to Not Be Forced to Watch Any More IRS Spoofs of Star Trek or Gilligan’s Island
2. The Right to Stop Hearing Lois Lerner Assert Her Fifth Amendment Rights
3. The Right to Keep Social Security Numbers from IRS Filings off the Internet
4. The Right to See the President’s Tax Return Before April 15
5. The Right to a Refund of Any Money Paid to Become a Registered Tax Return Preparer before the Program Was Suspended
6. The Right to Have Congress Make up Its Mind about the Tax Code Before December 31
7. The Right to Secretly Move Money from an Account in Switzerland to the Cayman Islands (Only Applies to Billionaires and Bankers)
8. The Right to Reach a Live Person on an IRS Phone Line If You Have a Tax Question
9. The Right to Not Have Your Tax Refund Seized Because Social Security Overpaid One of Your Parents Decades Ago
10. The Right to Avoid Seeing Any More H&R Block “Get Your Billion Back” Commercials
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