Know your rights or lose them...

Every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights when working with the IRS which are known collectively as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. One of the most important of these is the right to challenge the IRS's position and be heard.

Because of this, you have have the right to:


  • Raise objections.
  • Provide additional documentation in response to formal or proposed IRS actions.
  • Expect the IRS to consider your objections in a timely manner (though lets face it, government and speed go together like dirt and water).
  • Have the IRS consider any supporting documentation promptly and fairly.
  • Receive a response if the IRS does not agree with your position.


What this means is, regardless of what a lot of Americans believe, you actually can fight the government. And you should. The government is made up of people and they make mistakes, too. Here are some specific things you can and should do:


• In some cases, the IRS will notify a taxpayer that their tax return has a math or clerical error. If this happens, you: 


  • Have 60 days to tell the IRS that you disagree.
  • Should provide copies of any records that may help correct the error.
  • May call the number listed on the letter or bill for assistance (be prepared for a two hour wait. The government does not like to answer the phone).
  • Can expect the agency to make the necessary adjustment to your account and send a correction if the IRS upholds your position.


• Here's what will happen if the IRS does not agree with the your position: 


  • The agency will issue a notice proposing a tax adjustment. This is a letter that comes in the mail (the IRS never calls you without sending a bill first).
  • This notice provides you with a right to challenge the proposed adjustment.
  • You make this challenge by filing a petition in U.S. Tax Court. You must generally file the petition within 90 days of the date of the notice, or 150 days if your addressed outside the United States.


• You can submit documentation and raise objections during an audit. If the IRS does not agree with the your position, the agency issues a notice explaining why it is increasing the tax. Prior to paying the tax, you have the right to petition the U.S. Tax Court and challenge the agency's decision.

• In some circumstances, the IRS must provide a taxpayer with an opportunity for a hearing before an independent Office of Appeals. The agency must do this:


  • Before taking enforcement actions to collect a tax debt. These actions include levying the your bank account and filing a notice of federal tax lien in the appropriate state filing location. If you still disagree with the decision of the Appeals Office, you can petition the U.S. Tax Court.


The tax machine is a juggernaut, ready to roll over you with out remorse or hesitation. Your best defense, then is a good offense. And that begins with understanding you have rights and acting on them as soon as possible. If you're having a problem with the IRS, contact your tax professional immediately. Never give up your rights by delaying.