Tax Tips: What rights do I have as a taxpayer?

While our system of federal taxation may seem burdensome, taxpayers do have many rights when it comes to the process. The IRS does want taxpayers to be informed about their rights so that they can protect themselves.

There are many rights for taxpayers at all steps of the tax process, but here are some of the most common rights that you should be aware of:

  • Your civil rights are protected, and that means that no employee of the IRS can discriminate against you based upon your race, sex, age or disability.

  • You have a right to receive notices related to your tax matters. The IRS must notify you if they claim you owe more or less taxes, and they must give you the reason why you owe more or less. They also must provide you details of interest and penalties that are assessed.

  • You have a right to be represented in your tax matters. You can be represented by an attorney, an accountant, a family member, or other person of your choosing.

  • You have a right of confidentiality, both within the IRS and outside of the IRS. No IRS employee can release information about your tax situation to anyone but you, unless you have signed a power-of-attorney form. Also, employees of the IRS are not allowed to arbitrarily access your tax records. They must only access them for official business.

  • You have certain procedural rights when it comes to collecting your taxes. These rights include a timetable for collecting taxes, as well as certain methods for collecting taxes, which might include garnishing wages or levying bank accounts.

Along with rights come responsibilities, however. Taxpayers are responsible for filing accurate taxes on time, and for paying the taxes, interest, and penalties due. The IRS provides a Taxpayer Advocate Service which is there to take your complaints and help you resolve your problems with the IRS.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

Your resource on tax filing
Tax season is here! Check out the Tax Center on AOL Finance for all the tips and tools you need to maximize your return.
Top 8 Year-End Tax Tips
Learn these top 8 year-end tax tips in order to maximize your tax refund or minimize the taxes you owe.
Read MoreBrought to you byTurboTax.com
Know the Key Dates for Health Care Reform
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment periods vary from year-to-year, but are expected to continue to be late in fall to early winter. Being aware of health care reform key dates can mean avoiding tax penalties for remaining uninsured.
Read MoreBrought to you byTurboTax.com
Great Ways to Get Charitable Tax Deductions
Generally, when you give money to a charity, you can use the amount of that donation as an itemized deduction on your tax return. However, not all charities qualify as tax-deductible organizations. While there are many types of charities, they must all meet certain criteria to be classified by the IRS as tax-deductible organizations. There are legitimate tax-deductible organizations in many popular categories, such as those listed below.
Read MoreBrought to you byTurboTax.com
Capital Gains and Losses
What is a capital asset, and how much tax do you have to pay when you sell one at a profit? Find out how to report your capital gains and losses on your tax return with these tips from TurboTax.
Read MoreBrought to you byTurboTax.com