This is the week when tax filing mess-ups hit the fan again. The tax extension deadline on Monday, October 16 will still see Long Island people not filing (even though they did file an extension request and get approved). And in preparing things, it will reveal bigger problems for a lot of other people.
Tax problems mean the IRS will start looking your way. If you haven’t been paying or filing or have been doing things incorrectly, you become extremely vulnerable to IRS scrutiny of your situation.
But even if you got everything submitted on time this year you could still end up being audited, especially if you’re in a higher tax bracket or have multiple years of negligence on your record.
When you’re in these situations, it’s good to know where you stand legally with the IRS.
And the good news on that is, you have a taxpayer bill of rights. There are ten on that list. In a previous installment, I discussed the first five and broke them down into plain English. So let’s take today to get into the rest.
#6 on the Taxpayer Bill of Rights: The Right to Finality
Tax problems aren’t something you want hanging over your head for eternity. Thus, you have a right to know how long the IRS can take action against you, how long they’re going to take to process things, and what your deadlines are for responding.
Included in this right is the right to have tax problems wrapped up and done, such that they can’t be brought up again later. Thus, there are legal restrictions on certain IRS actions, such as how often they can audit the same tax return (unless there is evidence of fraud, of course) and how many years they can take collection action against you.
#7 on the Taxpayer Bill of Rights: The Right to Privacy
Just because the IRS goes poking around your finances doesn’t mean that your Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure go out the window. The IRS should never pry into matters that are beyond your purview, should not delve into your private life, or demand to know how you pay for your lifestyle if there is no evidence that you’re hiding income.
#8 on the Taxpayer Bill of Rights: The Right to Confidentiality
In addition to these invasiveness provisions, the IRS must also follow all applicable laws in regard to protecting your personal information from being seen by the world. The IRS isn’t allowed to disclose your tax information to anybody without your permission, and cannot contact third parties for collection purposes without giving you advance notice.
The IRS is not immune to data breaches, and they are a juicy target for criminals. You have the right to know about such breaches, and the IRS is required to take action against their own employees, hackers, and even us tax professionals if said individuals are the cause of such data leaks.
#9 on the Taxpayer Bill of Rights: The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System
OK, OK, I know this one sounds like a joke. None of us are ever going to completely agree on precisely what constitutes a “fair” tax system, but that’s not exactly what this right is about.
Rather, this right refers to the IRS treating you fairly in all matters. They are required to consider your specific, individual circumstances when making decisions that affect you. The IRS is supposed to be respectful of personal issues that impact your ability to pay, file returns, or provide certain documentation.
Above all else, the IRS is not allowed to put you in a position where you no longer have a roof over your head or food on the table.
#10 on the Taxpayer Bill of Rights: The Right to Retain Representation
Officially, this is actually number nine on the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, but I’ve bumped it to the final slot because this is where I come in. Given how complex tax matters can be, and how much of a nightmare it can be to navigate the IRS bureaucracy, sometimes you just want help from a tried and true Suffolk County tax expert who does this every day.
You have a legal right to seek such help, and I’m here to provide that assistance if you need it. If you’re facing an IRS issue and want to make sure that your rights are protected, let’s have a chat:
We’ve got you covered…