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What Are Your Rights When Interacting with the IRS?

Do you have rights when it comes to the IRS? If you pay taxes to them, then a resounding yes, you do have rights! But what are they? The IRS has an entire Bill of Rights created for you. The Bill of Rights can be found at this link: Taxpayer Bill of Rights | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov) Essentially you have the right to your information, the right to a good quality of service, the right to only pay what you owe, the right to challenge the IRS and have your challenge be heard, the right to privacy and confidentiality, and the right to have representation. But the one that the IRS struggles with the most at this time of the year is the right to a good quality of service. What does this mean when we face long wait times on hold, hostile agents when we do finally get in touch with a human or talk to someone that clearly has no idea what they are talking about? How does the IRS define our right to a good quality of service? They have released their definition of what your rights are within the scope of their service quality and the following list is quoted straight from the IRS:

  • Receive prompt, courteous and professional assistance from the IRS.
  • Be spoken to in a way they can easily understand.
  • Receive clear and easily understandable communications from the IRS.
  • Speak to a supervisor about inadequate service.

I have personally spoken to quite a few agents of the IRS and in my experience, this has been mostly true. They are sometimes “prompt” but in most cases are slow to act and give me information. I would say that most people I interact with are “courteous and professional”, but there have been a few that have yelled at me and have been difficult to speak to. Rarely do I get an option to talk to a supervisor when there have been issues. Overall, I would give their quality of service a B, at best. One thing that the IRS will never ever do is call you aggressively and threaten you with jail time over the phone if you don’t pay your alleged bill immediately. If you get a phone call like this, it is most definitely a scammer. Don’t give them any money or information. I believe that the reason that they struggle with their customer service so badly this time of year comes down to the fact that they are overworked.

There are way more taxpayers and tax preparers needing information then there are people help us acquire that information. This is just my way of saying that the agents that you talk to do not hate you. They do not wake up in the morning looking for ways to hurt you. They are regular people trying to provide for their families while working in a very high stress environment. They are probably facing pressures at home and waking up with aches and pains, just like us. Yes, we do have the right to be treated in a “courteous and professional” manner, but it will be a lot easier for them to do that if we approach them in a “courteous and professional” manner as well. If this is difficult for you to do or you’re nervous or uncomfortable approaching the IRS at all, that is a very normal human feeling that you are experiencing. I would highly suggest that you exercise your right to having a professional tax person represent you and speak to the IRS on your behalf. You then may be able to resolve your problem as quickly and easily as possible.

If your problem is not being solved in a reasonable way, you also have the right to get help from the Taxpayer Advocate Service, which is a department that specializes in resolving taxpayer problems. In my personal interaction with them, they are excellent at their jobs. There are quite a few ways that you can contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service, I would suggest though starting with their website: www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov .
If you need help in resolving an IRS issue or you need representation, DeMar Consulting Group can help you navigate your challenge and represent you in front of the IRS. Contact us for a free consultation.

-Tasha Preisner

Tasha Preisner is a licensed Enrolled Agent and Quickbooks Advanced Certified ProAdvisor

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