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. 

Conclusion

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.

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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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Jul 18th 2018 16:11

No, the author is not unduly critical. With my current experiences with the IRS, he is not critical enough of the IRS. I can enumerate the number and how my "Tax Payer Bill of Rights" have been stomped on. When I confronted the violation to the IRS about the violations the response was "I'm sorry". Mine, "you mean it isn't worth the paper it is printed on?" Their response - silence.

In addition FACTA and The Fast Act (Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act), passed on 01/06/2015, nearly 500 pages and signed by Obama. Deep in this transportation act, the IRS is given authorities that not only violate the "TPBOR" but also my constitutional rights.

Totalitarian. They can seize your assets without due process, confiscate your passport and who knows what else that have been hidden in other Congressional actions?

Maybe I have a narrow view on this since nearly 50% of my retirement assets are being seized because of IRS errors and malfeasance. Yes, my congressman has written a letter of intervention on my behalf. Yes, I have a national accounting firm's assistance. Appears only recourse is through Tax Court once assets are seized, what a laugh. Have tried numerous times sending information to the IRS and they say they have no record of receiving, yet I have the return receipts and contacts can be seen on my IRS website.

CP 504, they claim they never received information despite what is on their website, seizure now two weeks or less away.

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Jul 27th 2018 20:09

Had it not been for the intervention of my congressman - Doug Lamborn from Colorado, my assets would have been seized. In speaking with the manager of the Denver Tax Advocate office he confirmed what Mr. Armstrong doesn't seem to understand. The IRS can seize your assets without you having the opportunity of a hearing. It's the law, so I guess the 4th Amendment doesn't apply when the government passes a law.

In fact, they can seize your assets EVEN if you are going through an audit.

Once seized you have little chance of recovering. The manager of the Tax Advocate office stated "yes, it is a horrible thing that the IRS can do."

Because of my congressman's help, first his office put a freeze on seizure until the end of September. Something they wouldn't do for me and when asked I was told the 30 days was maximum, they could act sooner. Then they worked with one of the Tax Payer Advocates they use.

The manager of my local IRS office said the same thing - the IRS is right AND responding as I did doesn't matter AND going through an audit doesn't matter.

It appears that my situation has been rectified, but I'll wait until it is "posted" on my account, hopefully before the end of September, but we are dealing with a totalitarian government...

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