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Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR)

Last updated 06/05/2024 by

Daniel Dikio

Edited by

Fact checked by

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR) is a fundamental set of principles designed to protect and empower taxpayers when dealing with tax authorities. These rights ensure transparency, fairness, and accountability in tax administration, helping taxpayers understand their obligations and rights. The TBOR covers various aspects such as the right to be informed, the right to quality service, the right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax, and several others.

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What is the taxpayer bill of rights (TBOR)

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR) is a pivotal document that encapsulates the rights and protections afforded to taxpayers in the United States. It serves as a guide to ensure that taxpayers are treated with respect, fairness, and professionalism by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and other tax authorities. The concept of a taxpayer bill of rights has evolved over time, with the current iteration being a comprehensive summary of the rights inherent in existing tax laws.
The purpose of the TBOR is to make taxpayers aware of their rights and provide a framework for fair tax administration. By clearly defining these rights, the TBOR helps prevent abuse and ensures that taxpayers can expect transparency and accountability in their interactions with the IRS.

The ten core rights

The right to be informed

The right to be informed is the cornerstone of the TBOR. It ensures that taxpayers receive clear explanations of the laws and IRS procedures in all tax forms, instructions, publications, notices, and correspondence. This right guarantees that taxpayers are kept aware of their tax obligations and are informed about decisions made by the IRS regarding their tax matters.
The importance of this right cannot be overstated. When taxpayers understand the tax laws and IRS procedures, they are better equipped to comply with their obligations and make informed decisions. For example, taxpayers should receive notices explaining why their return was selected for audit and what documentation is required.
Examples of information taxpayers should receive include explanations of the amount of tax due, the reasons for any adjustments, and guidance on how to respond to IRS requests. The IRS strives to ensure that communications are clear, concise, and accurate to avoid confusion and misinterpretation.

The right to quality service

The right to quality service emphasizes the IRS’s responsibility to provide prompt, courteous, and professional assistance in all dealings with taxpayers. Taxpayers can expect the IRS to act with integrity and respect their individual needs.
Quality service involves not only the accuracy of information provided but also the manner in which it is delivered. Taxpayers should be able to reach the IRS easily and receive helpful, courteous service when they do. This includes timely responses to inquiries and respectful treatment during audits or other tax matters.
If taxpayers receive poor service, they have several options. They can request to speak to a supervisor, file a complaint with the IRS, or contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) for assistance. The TAS is an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers resolve issues and ensures that they are treated fairly.

The right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax

This right ensures that taxpayers pay only the amount of tax legally due, including interest and penalties, and no more. It underscores the principle of fair taxation and the IRS’s obligation to accurately assess tax liabilities.
Taxpayers can take several steps to ensure they are not overpaying. This includes maintaining accurate records, reviewing tax returns for errors, and understanding the tax laws that apply to their situation. If taxpayers believe they have overpaid, they can file an amended return or request a refund.
The IRS has procedures in place to address overpayment issues. For example, taxpayers can submit a claim for a refund if they believe they have paid more tax than they owe. The IRS is required to review these claims and, if justified, issue a refund.

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 can expect the IRS to consider their timely objections and documentation promptly and fairly.
This right ensures that taxpayers have a voice in their tax matters and can challenge IRS decisions if they believe they are incorrect. The process for challenging IRS decisions typically involves submitting a written response to a notice or proposal, providing supporting documentation, and requesting a review of the case.
Resources available for taxpayers during disputes include the IRS Office of Appeals, which is an independent organization within the IRS that resolves tax disputes without litigation. Taxpayers can also seek assistance from the TAS if they encounter difficulties in resolving their disputes.

The right to appeal an IRS decision in an independent forum

This right allows taxpayers to appeal a local IRS decision to the IRS Office of Appeals, an independent organization within the IRS that ensures a fair and impartial review. Taxpayers are also entitled to take their cases to court if they disagree with the outcome of the administrative appeals process.
The appeals process involves several steps. First, taxpayers must file a written protest or request for an appeal within the specified time frame. The Office of Appeals will then review the case, consider the taxpayer’s arguments, and make a determination. If the taxpayer is still dissatisfied, they can take their case to the United States Tax Court or other federal courts.
Impartiality in resolving disputes is crucial for maintaining taxpayer confidence in the tax system. The Office of Appeals operates independently of the IRS offices that conducted the original examination or collection actions, ensuring a fair review process.

The right to finality

The right to finality ensures that taxpayers know the maximum amount of time they have to challenge an IRS decision or the time the IRS has to audit a particular tax year. This right provides certainty and allows taxpayers to plan their financial affairs with confidence.
Time limits and deadlines are an essential aspect of tax administration. For example, the IRS generally has three years from the date a return is filed to assess additional tax. Similarly, taxpayers have a limited time to file a claim for a refund, typically three years from the date they filed the original return.
Understanding these time limits helps taxpayers know when an issue is conclusively resolved and provides peace of mind. It also emphasizes the importance of timely action in tax matters, both for the IRS and taxpayers.

The right to privacy

Taxpayers have the right to expect that any IRS inquiry, examination, or enforcement action will comply with the law and be no more intrusive than necessary. This right ensures that the IRS respects the taxpayer’s privacy and uses only the information necessary to resolve tax issues.
The IRS has several measures in place to protect taxpayer privacy. For example, it limits the information requested during audits to what is relevant and necessary for the examination. The IRS also follows strict protocols when conducting audits or investigations to avoid unnecessary intrusion into taxpayers’ personal lives.
If taxpayers believe their privacy rights have been violated, they can file a complaint with the IRS or seek assistance from the TAS. The IRS takes privacy concerns seriously and is committed to addressing any violations promptly.

The right to confidentiality

This right ensures that taxpayers can expect the information they provide to the IRS to be kept confidential and not disclosed unless authorized by the taxpayer or by law. The IRS is required to protect taxpayer information and only share it under specific, legally defined circumstances.
Taxpayers have the expectation that their tax information will be handled with the utmost confidentiality. The IRS has stringent policies and procedures in place to protect this information, including limiting access to taxpayer data to authorized personnel and implementing robust security measures.
In case of a breach of confidentiality, taxpayers have several remedies. They can file a complaint with the IRS, seek assistance from the TAS, or take legal action if necessary. Protecting taxpayer confidentiality is a top priority for the IRS, and any breaches are taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.

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. This right ensures that taxpayers can seek professional help to navigate complex tax issues and ensure their interests are adequately represented.
Having legal or professional representation can be crucial, especially in disputes or complex tax matters. Taxpayers can choose a certified public accountant (CPA), an attorney, or an enrolled agent to represent them. These professionals can help interpret tax laws, prepare responses to IRS inquiries, and represent taxpayers in hearings or appeals.
Taxpayers should be aware of their rights when dealing with representatives. For example, they can request the IRS to communicate directly with their representative and ensure that their representative has the authority to act on their behalf. If taxpayers have concerns about their representative’s conduct, they can contact the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility.

The right to a fair and just tax system

This right ensures that taxpayers can expect fairness and integrity from the tax system. The IRS must consider all relevant facts and circumstances that might affect a taxpayer’s ability to pay or comply with tax laws.
A fair and just tax system recognizes that taxpayers have different circumstances and may face challenges that impact their tax obligations. For example, the IRS offers various programs to assist taxpayers experiencing financial hardship, such as installment agreements and offers in compromise.
Taxpayers can also expect the IRS to take a balanced approach in enforcement actions, considering the taxpayer’s ability to pay and the impact of the action on the taxpayer’s financial situation. If taxpayers believe the system is unfair, they can seek assistance from the TAS or appeal IRS decisions.

Practical implications for taxpayers

Understanding the TBOR can significantly benefit taxpayers in tax planning and compliance. By knowing their rights, taxpayers can ensure they are treated fairly and take appropriate actions if they encounter issues with the IRS.
Common scenarios where TBOR rights come into play include audits, disputes over tax liabilities, and interactions with IRS representatives. For example, if a taxpayer is selected for an audit, they have the right to be informed about the process, challenge any findings, and retain representation to assist them.
To effectively exercise TBOR rights, taxpayers should stay informed about tax laws and procedures, maintain accurate records, and seek professional advice when necessary. Being proactive and understanding one’s rights can help prevent and resolve issues with the IRS more efficiently.

Recent updates and changes

The TBOR is a dynamic document that evolves to address changes in tax laws and administration practices. Recent updates may include new rights or modifications to existing ones to enhance taxpayer protections and improve IRS operations.
One significant change in recent years is the increased emphasis on taxpayer privacy and data security. As tax administration becomes more digital, the IRS has implemented stricter measures to protect taxpayer information and prevent unauthorized access.
Another trend is the IRS’s efforts to improve taxpayer services, including expanding online resources and providing more robust support through the TAS. These changes aim to make it easier for taxpayers to access information, resolve issues, and receive the assistance they need.
Taxpayers should stay informed about these updates to understand how they may impact their rights and interactions with the IRS. The IRS website and official publications are valuable resources for the latest information on the TBOR and related topics.


What is the Taxpayer Bill of Rights?

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR) is a set of ten fundamental rights designed to protect taxpayers and ensure they are treated fairly and with respect by the IRS. These rights cover various aspects of tax administration, including the right to be informed, the right to quality service, and the right to confidentiality.

How can I ensure my rights are being respected by the IRS?

To ensure your rights are respected, it is important to be informed about the TBOR and understand your rights in various tax situations. Keep accurate records, communicate clearly with the IRS, and seek professional advice if needed. If you believe your rights have been violated, you can contact the IRS, file a complaint, or seek assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS).

What should I do if I believe my rights under the TBOR have been violated?

If you believe your rights under the TBOR have been violated, you can take several steps. First, try to resolve the issue directly with the IRS by contacting the appropriate department or supervisor. If the issue remains unresolved, you can file a complaint with the IRS or seek assistance from the TAS. The TAS is an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers resolve problems and ensures they are treated fairly.

Can the TBOR help me if I have a dispute with the IRS?

Yes, the TBOR can help you if you have a dispute with the IRS. It provides a framework for challenging IRS decisions, appealing in an independent forum, and ensuring that your rights are respected throughout the process. Understanding your rights under the TBOR can help you navigate disputes more effectively and seek appropriate remedies.

Key takeaways

  • The Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR) outlines fundamental rights and protections for taxpayers dealing with the IRS.
  • Understanding TBOR rights empowers taxpayers to ensure fair treatment and take action when necessary.
  • Key rights include being informed, receiving quality service, paying no more than the correct tax amount, and challenging IRS decisions.
  • Privacy and confidentiality of taxpayer information are safeguarded by the TBOR.
  • Taxpayers have the right to retain representation and expect a fair and just tax

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