The IRS and Your Rights

Believe it or not, you have rights in your dealings with the Internal Revenue Service, as follows:

  • IRS employees must explain your rights and protect them.
  • IRS employees cannot disclose information about you to anyone, unless the law authorizes disclosure.
  • When an IRS employee asks you for information you have the right to know (1) why the employee wants the information, (2) how the information will be used, and (3) what will happen if you don't provide the information.
  • IRS employees must be polite, professional, and fair. If an employee is not acting properly, you have a right to talk to the employee's supervisor, and if the supervisor's response is unsatisfactory, you can write to the IRS Director in your area (look in your local telephone book) or the Service Center Director.
  • You have the right to have somebody represent you if you don't want to represent yourself in dealing with the IRS. A tax lawyer can do this for you, as can a CPA or an "enrolled agent," that is, a person specially authorized by the IRS to represent taxpayers.
  • You have a right to stop an interview conducted by an IRS employee to consult with your representative. The employee must stop the interview and usually will reschedule it.
  • You can have somebody with you at an interview.
  • You can tape-record any meeting with the employee conducting your audit, hearing your appeal, or trying to collect a tax you owe. You must tell the employee of your plan in writing at least ten days before the meeting.
  • You have to pay only as much as you owe. If you cannot pay it all, you can ask about paying the tax in monthly payments. If you have paid too much, you are entitled to a refund, as long as you apply for one on time. The deadline for filing for a refund is the later of (1) three years of the date you filed your original return, or (2) two years from the date you paid the tax.
  • The IRS will owe you interest only if it takes longer than forty-five days to send you your refund check.
  • You have a right to appeal an audit agent's decision of how much tax you owe.
  • You have a right to appeal some collection efforts by collection agents.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified tax attorney to help you navigate your federal and/or state tax issues.

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