Why the Taxpayer Bill of Rights is Pointless

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The IRS regularly sends alerts discussing the Taxpayer Bill of rights and it is my view that they are never implemented, there is no oversight and, in effect, pointless.

If you don’t know what they are, I will state them:

  • The Right to Be Informed
  • The Right to Quality Service
  • The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax
  • The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard
  • The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum
  • The Right to Finality
  • The Right to Privacy
  • The Right to Confidentiality
  • The Right to Retain Representation
  • The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System

First of all, these are all nonsense, but we should examine them. 

1. The right to be informed:  Informed about what? The fact that the IRS is going to audit you, levy your account, garnish your wages? 

2. The right to quality service: To this I say, call the Practitioner Priority Service (PPS), wait on hold for up to two hours, and get a “courtesy” disconnect; that’s quality service

3. The right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax: According to the IRS, there is a tax gap.  The tax gap is what you are supposed to pay in taxes, and what you actually pay. Guess who is blamed for that? Us professionals! 

4. The right to challenge the IRS’s position and be heard: By whom? If you disagree with an audit the first person to contact is the Revenue Agent’s (RA) manager. In 24 years, I have never seen a manager disagree with their employee, even when you point out the Code Section that proves your point.

5. The right to appeal an IRS decision in an independent forum: You have got to be kidding me.  How independent can it be when the RA and the Appeals Officer (AO), exchange information, and discuss the case. If you want the RA’s notes, you used to just be able to ask for them. Now you have to do a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that you may or may not get before the appeal. 

6. The right to finality: I have a client that I have been working on an Offer in Compromise (OIC) for four years. When will that end? 

7. The right to privacy and confidentiality:  How many times do Revenue Officers (RO), go to the business of a taxpayer and discuss their tax issues openly, within earshot of employees? Not to mention that the IRS can interview your neighbors, clients, and pretty much anyone. 

8. The right to representation:  In theory, the only time an agent can go over the representative’s head is when they aren’t complying. I always comply, and RO’s visit my clients without informing me, or giving me the opportunity to be present. 

9. The right to a fair and just tax system: Guess who is supposed to get on the IRS’s case when they don’t go by these rights? The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS). They are a joke. I have contacted my local office asking for immediate help, and explaining the situation. Most times, they don’t even bother getting involved. They are supposed to the oversight of the IRS, but they don’t do a thing when a taxpayer’s rights are infringed, and they just don’t care.

I actually had an RO call me the other day, telling me that she needed to see my client to secure financials. She basically needs a 433-A.  My client hired me, and doesn’t need to be there, nor do I have to waste my time to simply send my client a 433-A.  Furthermore, why should that matter?  They have been garnishing his Social Security for four years. 

Then anyone that represents clients has a Central Authorization File (CAF).  We are given a CAF number, and if the IRS wants to contact us, they check our CAF file, that contains our address, phone number, and fax number. 

My address is up to date with my CAF, even though I get things sent to my old office. My phone number is up to date, and I have a cell phone that I only use for the IRS. These idiot RAs and ROs, call my office number. I REFUSE to call them back. 


These Bill of Rights sound good, but there is no one to enforce them. The TAS is a joke and we are back to where we started with Congressional Hearings in 1998. 

If you have a Bill of Rights, what does it matter if they are never followed, much less when you ask for help the TAS has some excuse as to why they can’t help you.

We would greatly appreciate your comments and views on this matter

About Craig W. Smalley, EA

Craig Smalley

Craig W. Smalley, MST, EA, has been in practice since 1994. He has been admitted to practice before the IRS as an enrolled agent and has a master's in taxation. He is well-versed in US tax law and US Tax Court cases. He specializes in taxation, entity structuring and restructuring, corporations, partnerships, and individual taxation, as well as representation before the IRS regarding negotiations, audits, and appeals. In his many years of practice, he has been exposed to a variety of businesses and has an excellent knowledge of most industries. He is the CEO and co-founder of CWSEAPA PLLC and Tax Crisis Center LLC; both business have locations in Florida, Delaware, and Nevada. Craig is the current Google small business accounting advisor for the Google Small Business Community. He is a contributor to AccountingWEB and Accounting Today, and has had 12 books published on various topics in taxation. His articles have also been featured in the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, and several other newspapers, periodicals, and magazines. He has been interviewed and been a featured guest on many radio shows and podcasts. Finally, he is the co-host of Tax Avoidance is Legal, which is a nationally broadcast weekly Internet radio show.


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Apr 30th 2018 17:26

It seems that the author may be unduly critical of the system based on personal experiences. The rights are aspirational, no doubt, but they are important.

I think that perhaps there should be some type of mechanism in place where violations of the rights, can be judged and discussed, and outcomes learned, without the need to file a FOIA request.

To be dismissive of the idea seems rather pointless. I would hope that many professionals do feel that the IRS of this decade is better than that in the previous century.

Thanks (2)
Apr 30th 2018 17:28

I completely agree with everything you have said. The Taxpayer "Bill of Rights" is a complete joke. It is unenforced and part of what is essentially a broken and dare I say corrupt system of unjustified harassment of people who have no power to fight back. The foundation of tax law is Napoleonic code - guilty until proven innocent. And as long as that is true, no true Bill of Rights can possibly exist. There simply are none in a system where you are guilty from the start - because they say so.

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