Know Your Taxpayer Bill of Rights
Every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights and the IRS has an obligation to protect them. The “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” groups the taxpayer rights found in the tax code into 10 categories. Know these rights when interacting with the IRS. A good way to learn about them is by reading Publication 1,
Your Rights as a Taxpayer.
The Right to Be Informed. Taxpayers have the right to know what to do in order to comply with the tax laws. They are entitled to clear explanations of the laws and IRS procedures on all tax forms, instructions, publications, notices, and correspondence.
They have the right to know about IRS decisions affecting their accounts and receive clear explanations of the outcomes.
The Right to Quality Service. Taxpayers have the right to receive prompt, courteous and professional assistance in their internal actions with the IRS. They also have the right 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.
The Right to Pay No More Than the Correct Amount of Tax. Taxpayers have the right to pay only the amount of tax legally due, including interest and penalties and to have the IRS apply for all tax payments properly.
The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard.Taxpayers have the right to raise objections and provide additional documentation in response to formal IRS actions or proposed actions. They also have the right to expect the IRS to consider their timely objections promptly and fairly and to receive a response if the IRS does not agree with their position.
The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum.Taxpayers 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 Office of Appeals’ a decision. Taxpayers generally have the right to take their cases to court.
The Right to Finality. Taxpayers have the right to know the maximum amount of time they have to challenge an IRS position as well as the 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 finished an audit.
The Right to Privacy. Taxpayers have the right to expect that any IRS inquiry, audit 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.
The Right to Confidentiality. Taxpayers 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.
The Right to Retain Representation. Taxpayers 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.
The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System. Taxpayers 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 financial difficulty or if the IRS has not resolved their tax issues properly and timely through its normal channels.
The IRS will include Publication 1 when sending a taxpayer notices on a range of issues, such as an audit or collection matter. Publication 1 is available in English and Spanish. All IRS facilities will publicly display the rights for taxpayers.
Avoid scams. The IRS will never initiate contact using social media or text message. The first contact generally comes in the mail. Those wondering if they owe money to the IRS can view their tax account information on IRS.gov to find out.
Divorce or Separation May Affect Taxes
Taxpayers who are divorcing or recently divorced need to consider the impact divorce or separation may have on their taxes. Alimony payments paid under a divorce or separation instrument are deductible by the payer, and the recipient must include it in income.
Name or address changes and individual retirement account deductions are other items to consider.
IRS.gov has resources that can help along with these key tax tips:
Child Support Payments are not Alimony. Child support payments are neither deductible nor taxable income for either parent.
Deduct Alimony Paid. Taxpayers can deduct alimony paid under a divorce or separation decree, whether or not they itemize deductions on their return. Taxpayers must file Form 1040; enter the amount of alimony paid and their former spouse's Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
Report Alimony Received. Taxpayers should report alimony received as income on Form 1040 in the year received. Alimony is not subject to tax withholding so it may be necessary to increase the tax paid during the year to avoid a penalty. To do this, it is possible to make estimated tax payments or increase the amount of tax withheld from wages.
IRA Considerations. A final decree of divorce or separate maintenance agreement by the end of the tax year means taxpayers can’t deduct contributions made to a former spouse's traditional IRA. They can only deduct contributions made to their own traditional IRA. For more information about IRAs, see Publications 590-A and 590-B.
Report Name Changes. Notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) of any name changes after a divorce. Go to SSA.gov for more information. The name on a tax return must match SSA records. A name mismatch can cause problems in the processing of a return and may delay a refund.
It'sIndividual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).
The IRS will issue an ITIN if you are a nonresident or resident alien and you do not have and are not eligible to get an SSN.
The ITIN will expire for any taxpayer who doesn't file a federal income tax return (or who is not included as a dependent on the return of another taxpayer) for three consecutive years.
In general, if you need to obtain an ITIN, you must attach Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, with your signed, original, completed tax return and any other required documentation and mail them to the address in the Instructions for Form
Exceptions are covered in the instructions. If you must include another person's SSN on your return and that person does not have and cannot get an SSN, enter that person's ITIN. easy.
Create Electronic Copies of Key Documents
Taxpayers can help themselves by keeping a duplicate set of key documents, including bank statements, tax returns, identifications and insurance policies in a safe place. Store them in a waterproof container and away from the original set.
Doing so is easier now that many financial institutions provide statements and documents electronically, and much financial information is available on the Internet. Even if the original documents are only provided on paper, these can be scanned into an electronic format. This way, taxpayers can download them to a storage device such as an external hard drive or USB flash drive, or burn them to a CD or DVD.
It’s a good idea to photograph or videotape the contents of any home, especially items of higher value. Documenting these items ahead of time will make it easier to quickly claim any available insurance and tax benefits after the disaster strikes. The IRS has a disaster loss workbook, Publication 584, which can help taxpayers compile a room-by-room list of belongings.
Photographs can help an individual prove the fair market value of items for insurance and casualty loss claims. Ideally, photos should be stored with a friend or family member who lives outside the area.