By Bernie Becker - 06/10/14 12:30 PM EDT
The IRS released a new taxpayer bill of rights on Tuesday, saying the public deserved a better understanding of where they stand with the tax agency.
The new taxpayer bill of rights doesn’t actually create any new rights for taxpayers. But top IRS officials and the national taxpayer advocate say that better organizing existing rules and making them more accessible will help the public understand what rights they do and don’t have before the IRS.
The 10 rights included in the new IRS document are: to be informed, to get quality service, to pay no more than you owe, to be able to challenge an IRS position, to be able to independently appeal an IRS decision, to finality, to privacy, to confidentiality, to retain representation and to a fair and just tax system.
Those rights will now be more easily found on the IRS’s website, instead of scattered throughout the tax code. Millions of taxpayers will also receive the bill of rights when they get notices from the IRS.
"These are core concepts about which taxpayers should be aware,” John Koskinen, the IRS commissioner, said in a statement. “Respecting taxpayer rights continues to be a top priority for IRS employees, and the new Taxpayer Bill of Rights summarizes these important protections in a clearer, more understandable format than ever before.”
Nina Olson, the national taxpayer advocate, has made a taxpayer bill of rights a top priority for years, and said Tuesday’s announcement was a step in the right direction.
“Congress has passed multiple pieces of legislation with the title of ‘Taxpayer Bill of Rights,’” said Olson, who serves as an in-house watchdog of the IRS. “However, taxpayer surveys conducted by my office have found that most taxpayers do not believe they have rights before the IRS and even fewer can name their rights.”
The new bill of rights is also the latest effort by Koskinen, who took over as IRS chief in December, to move beyond the agency’s Tea Party controversy, which caused the ouster of several top officials and is still being investigated by Congress. Koskinen has said he wants to be able to more fully focus on the IRS’s job of serving taxpayers.