I have recently tried to communicate just how difficult it can be to deal with the IRS. This is not a straight criticism of the agency as an institution, it simply does not have the manpower to properly address all the things it should be able to properly address.
The IRS has given indications that things will improve, but that doesn’t seem to be happening, or at least not very quickly. This recent article showcases some of the ways and some of the reasons the IRS is falling behind and how a fix doesn’t appear to be imminent. With this all happening at a time when even some who filed their taxes on the original deadline back in May are waiting for their returns to be processed, the frustration can be strong.
With this growing frustration then, I thought it could be helpful to look at what rights you have as a taxpayer, a list that Is very simply labeled, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Of course, when you look at this, it may seem more than a little ironic that the second thing on the list is the right to quality service (where even the IRS includes the word ‘prompt’ in the definition of this type of service).
Furthermore, I can completely appreciate a cynic’s view of this list. It may look like a lot of platitudes that do not do you a lot of good if you are actually facing the IRS. Add in the increased tension that can be caused by the difficulty experienced in attempting to contact the agency, and a list of rights can feel empty.
You do not have to just throw up your hands, though. If you receive a letter from the IRS, it does not mean that you are automatically wrong. Sure, some people make mistakes when filing their taxes. But the IRS also makes mistakes when looking at those filed returns. And even more often lately, the agency makes mistakes when sending out notices – some of which have not been actually applicable to its recipients.
And it is frightening to receive such a letter, especially since they sometimes come in the form of a large bill that you did not expect. But one of the rights on the list is ‘The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard,” so if it is their mistake, you have a chance to set it right. You want to act quick (especially when receiving a response to such action can be delayed) but you can do so. And if you need assistance from those with a greater understanding of how those things work, then do not hesitate to find it.
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