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Taxpayer Rights

Most people go through their entire lives without ever being audited. But there may come a day when the IRS comes a calling and you may be required to explain something on your tax returns. This is called an "an examination of tax returns" or "an audit."

Many people already feel that taxation is unfair and that they are already paying more than their fair share of taxes so they feel that an audit is just another form of harassment.

They feel that they are disrespected by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) auditors, that the IRS agents don't treat them fairly, and an audit is designed to pressure and harass them. In the past, this may have been true, but today, things have changed somewhat.

Taxpayers have the right to be treated with respect, fairness, and with professional courtesy, by Internal Revenue Service personnel. There is a Taxpayer Bill of Rights that has been passed by Congress to protect taxpayers from overzealous auditors.

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights and other statues passed by Congress makes it necessary for the IRS to inform the audited taxpayer of the effect of the action that is being taken and how the taxpayer can proceed and protect his rights.

If the IRS finds a mistake or an oversight, it usually notifies the taxpayer by mail of the corrections to be made or if there are additional taxes to be paid. You may be required to submit additional documents to prove the accuracy of your returns at an examination meeting.

A taxpayer may authorize someone else to represent him at an audit hearing and the representative may make an appearance without the taxpayer. But if the IRS deems it necessary that the taxpayer appear in person, they may issue an executive summons and the taxpayer must appear before the auditor.

One of the most important unwritten rules of any contact with IRS personnel, or anyone else, is to avoid confrontation of any kind. Be polite and courteous. You may politely refuse to answer any question not mentioned in the notice of audit.

You may request that the examination be held at your place of business or at your representative's office. A taxpayer has the right to audio record any interview or other meetings with an IRS auditor as long as a written notice is given not later than 10 calender days prior to the meeting.

If you don't agree with the auditor's findings, you may ask for an immediate meeting with the auditor's supervisor. If you feel that you are correct in your assessment of the audit, you may take your case to Tax Court, providing the deficiencies in the audit is $50,000.00 or less.

Before challenging the IRS, at the examination or in court, make sure that you have all records necessary to defend yourself. Your defense may need to be handled by an experienced tax attorney or other litigator who is familiar with tax codes and other regulations.

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