Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights

Article excerpt

The Internal Revenue Service plans to make it easier for taxpayers to understand their rights and reduce the burdens they face when conducting business with the IRS. Internal Revenue Bulletin announcement 96-5 (IRB 1996-4) lists the proposals the IRS already has adopted, as well as those it plans to implement. Following are some of the announcement's highlights.

The taxpayer ombudsman now has the expanded authority to issue taxpayer assistance orders (TAOs), which few IRS officials will have the authority to overrule. For example, the ombudsman can direct the IRS to pay a refund for severe hardship cases or temporarily stay an IRS collection action until a review finds the action appropriate.

Publication no. 1660, Collection Appeal Rights for Liens, Levies and Seizures, explains the taxpayer's right to make such an appeal, which became an option on April 1, and the procedure for requesting one. Form 9423, "Collection Appeal Request," will be updated, and publication no. 594, Understanding the Collection Process, will be amended.

The IRS has said it plans to reduce the number of problems facing spouses who filed joint tax returns but later divorced or separated. For example, the IRS plans to adopt a rule allowing its personnel to notify one spouse of collection activity against the other spouse to collect a joint return liability. The service said it would provide sufficient privacy safeguards to ensure the procedure is used exclusively for tax purposes.

Internal Revenue Code section 6081 enables the IRS to grant reasonable extensions to file required returns. Taxpayers can obtain an automatic four month extension if they pay any balance due but still may be subject to penalties and interest if they obtain an extension for a tax return with a balance due. …

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