Your Rights as a Taxpayer
The IRS Mission
The Taxpayer Bill of Rights
This publication explains your rights as a taxpayer and the processes for examination, appeal, collection, and refunds. Also available in Spanish.
Provide America’s taxpayers top-quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities and enforce the law with integrity and fairness to all.
Publication 1 (Rev. 9-2017) Catalog Number 64731W Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service www.irs.gov
1. The Right to Be InformedTaxpayers have the right to know what they need to do to comply with the tax laws. They are entitled to clear explanations of the laws and IRS procedures in all tax forms, instructions, publications, notices, and correspondence. They have the right to be informed of IRS decisions about their tax accounts and to receive clear explanations of the outcomes.
2. The Right to Quality ServiceTaxpayers have the right to receive prompt, courteous, and professional assistance in their dealings with the IRS, to be spoken to in a way they can easily understand, to receive clear and easily understandable communications from the IRS, and to speak to a supervisor about inadequate service.
3. The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of TaxTaxpayers have the right to pay only the amount of tax legally due, including interest and penalties, and to have the IRS apply all tax payments properly.
4. The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be HeardTaxpayers have the right to raise objections and provide additional documentation in response to formal IRS actions or proposed actions, to expect that the IRS will consider their timely objections and documentation promptly and fairly, and to receive a response if the IRS does not agree with their position.
5. The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent ForumTaxpayers are entitled to a fair and impartial administrative appeal of most IRS decisions, including many penalties, and have the right to receive a written response regarding the Of�ce of Appeals’ decision. Taxpayers generally have the right to take their cases to court.
6. The Right to FinalityTaxpayers have the right to know the maximum amount of time they have to challenge the IRS’s position as well as the maximum amount of time the IRS has to audit a particular tax year or collect a tax debt. Taxpayers have the right to know when the IRS has �nished an audit.
7. The Right to PrivacyTaxpayers have the right to expect that any IRS inquiry, examination, or enforcement action will comply with the law and be no more intrusive than necessary, and will respect all due process rights, including search and seizure protections, and will provide, where applicable, a collection due process hearing.
8. The Right to ConfidentialityTaxpayers have the right to expect that any information they provide to the IRS will not be disclosed unless authorized by the taxpayer or by law. Taxpayers have the right to expect appropriate action will be taken against employees, return preparers, and others who wrongfully use or disclose taxpayer return information.
9. The Right to Retain RepresentationTaxpayers have the right to retain an authorized representative of their choice to represent them in their dealings with the IRS. Taxpayers have the right to seek assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic if they cannot afford representation.
10. The Right to a Fair and Just Tax SystemTaxpayers have the right to expect the tax system to consider facts and circumstances that might affect their underlying liabilities, ability to pay, or ability to provide information timely. Taxpayers have the right to receive assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service if they are experiencing �nancial dif�culty or if the IRS has not resolved their tax issues properly and timely through its normal channels.
Examinations, Appeals, Collections, and RefundsExaminations (Audits) We accept most taxpayers’ returns as �led. If we inquire about your return or select it for examination, it does not suggest that you are dishonest. The inquiry or examination may or may not result in more tax. We may close your case without change; or, you may receive a refund.
The process of selecting a return for examination usually begins in one of two ways. First, we use computer programs to identify returns that may have incorrect amounts. These programs may be based on information returns, such as Forms 1099 and W-2, on studies of past examinations, or on certain issues identi�ed by compliance projects. Second, we use information from outside sources that indicates that a return may have incorrect amounts. These sources may include newspapers, public records, and individuals. If we determine that the information is accurate and reliable, we may use it to select a return for examination.
Publication 556, Examination of Returns, Appeal Rights, and Claims for Refund, explains the rules and procedures that we follow in examinations. The following sections give an overview of how we conduct examinations.
By Mail We handle many examinations and inquiries by mail. We will send you a letter with either a request for more information or a reason why we believe a change to your return may be needed. You can respond by mail or you can request a personal interview with an examiner. If you mail us the requested information or provide an explanation, we may or may not agree with you, and we will explain the reasons for any changes. Please do not hesitate to write to us about anything you do not understand.
By Interview If we notify you that we will conduct your examination through a personal interview, or you request such an interview, you have the right to ask that the examination take place at a reasonable time and place that is convenient for both you and the IRS. If our examiner proposes any changes to your return, he or she will explain the reasons for the changes. If you do not agree with these changes, you can meet with the examiner’s supervisor.
Repeat Examinations If we examined your return for the same items in either of the 2 previous years and proposed no change to your tax liability, please contact us as soon as possible so we can see if we should discontinue the examination.
AppealsIf you do not agree with the examiner’s proposed changes, you can appeal them to
the Appeals Of�ce of the IRS. Most differences can be settled without expensive and time-consuming court trials. Your appeal rights are explained in detail in both Publication 5, Your Appeal Rights and How To Prepare a Protest If You Don’t Agree, and Publication 556, Examination of Returns, Appeal Rights, and Claims for Refund.
If you do not wish to use the Appeals Of�ce or disagree with its �ndings, you may be able to take your case to the U.S. Tax Court, U.S. Court of Federal Claims, or the U.S. District Court where you live. If you take your case to court, the IRS will have the burden of proving certain facts if you kept adequate records to show your tax liability, cooperated with the IRS, and meet certain other conditions. If the court agrees with you on most issues in your case and �nds that our position was largely unjusti�ed, you may be able to recover some of your administrative and litigation costs. You will not be eligible to recover these costs unless you tried to resolve your case administratively, including going through the appeals system, and you gave us the information necessary to resolve the case.
Collections Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process, explains your rights and responsibilities regarding payment of federal taxes. It describes:
• What to do when you owe taxes. It describes what to do if you get a tax bill and what to do if you think your bill is wrong. It also covers making installment payments, delaying collection action, and submitting an offer in compromise.
• IRS collection actions. It covers liens, releasing a lien, levies, releasing a levy, seizures and sales, and release of property.
• IRS certi�cation to the State Department of a seriously delinquent tax debt, which will generally result in denial of a passport application and may lead to revocation of a passport.
Your collection appeal rights are explained in detail in Publication 1660, Collection Appeal Rights.
Innocent Spouse Relief Generally, both you and your spouse are each responsible for paying the full amount of tax, interest, and penalties due on your joint return. However, if you qualify for innocent spouse relief, you may be relieved of part or all of the joint liability. To request relief, you must �le Form 8857, Request for Innocent Spouse Relief. For more information on innocent spouse relief, see Publication 971, Innocent Spouse Relief, and Form 8857.
Potential Third Party Contacts Generally, the IRS will deal directly with you or your duly authorized representative.
However, we sometimes talk with other persons if we need information that you have been unable to provide, or to verify information we have received. If we do contact other persons, such as a neighbor, bank, employer, or employees, we will generally need to tell them limited information, such as your name. The law prohibits us from disclosing any more information than is necessary to obtain or verify the information we are seeking. Our need to contact other persons may continue as long as there is activity in your case. If we do contact other persons, you have a right to request a list of those contacted. Your request can be made by telephone, in writing, or during a personal interview.
Refunds You may �le a claim for refund if you think you paid too much tax. You must generally �le the claim within 3 years from the date you �led your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. The law generally provides for interest on your refund if it is not paid within 45 days of the date you �led your return or claim for refund. Publication 556, Examination of Returns, Appeal Rights, and Claims for Refund, has more information on refunds.
If you were due a refund but you did not �le a return, you generally must �le your return within 3 years from the date the return was due (including extensions) to get that refund.
Taxpayer Advocate Service TAS is an independent organization within the IRS that can help protect your taxpayer rights. We can offer you help if your tax problem is causing a hardship, or you’ve tried but haven’t been able to resolve your problem with the IRS. If you qualify for our assistance, which is always free, we will do everything possible to help you. Visit www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov or call 1-877-777-4778.
Tax Information The IRS provides the following sources for forms, publications, and additional information. • Tax Questions: 1-800-829-1040
(1-800-829-4059 for TTY/TDD)• Forms and Publications:
1-800-829-3676 (1-800-829-4059 for TTY/TDD)
• Internet: www.irs.gov • Small Business Ombudsman: A small
business entity can participate in the regulatory process and comment on enforcement actions of the IRS by calling 1-888-REG-FAIR.
• Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration: You can con�dentially report misconduct, waste, fraud, or abuse by an IRS employee by calling 1-800-366-4484 (1-800-877-8339 for TTY/TDD). You can remain anonymous.