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The IRS Quietly Tweaked Your Rights as a Taxpayer

You may have noticed some buzz about the recently released Taxpayer Bill of Rights, a list so basic it's a wonder it has to exist at all. But this is the IRS we're talking about so probably better we have it.

The most recent version is pretty cut and dry:

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

Previously, the IRS called a similar document a "declaration of rights," which was first published in 1996 and updated in 1998, 2000, 2005, and 2012.

One item found on the declaration is noticeably absent from the new Taxpayer Bill of Rights, and that would be this bit (from the most recent version):

VIII. Relief From Certain Penalties The IRS will waive penalties when allowed by law if you can show you acted reasonably and in good faith or relied on the incorrect advice of an IRS employee. We will waive interest that is the result of certain errors or delays caused by an IRS employee.

There is zero mention in the latest document about IRS employees handing out crappy advice, nor is there any suggestion that the IRS will waive penalties if you meant well and ask nicely. You do have the right to challenge the IRS, so there's that.

You'll note none of the items on the Bill of Rights are new as they already existed in the tax code but what sane taxpayer who isn't also a tax person reads the code?

"The Taxpayer Bill of Rights contains fundamental information to help taxpayers," said IRS Commissioner John A. Koskinen. "These are core concepts about which taxpayers should be aware. Respecting taxpayer rights continues to be a top priority for IRS employees, and the new Taxpayer Bill of Rights summarizes these important protections in a clearer, more understandable format than ever before."