Taxpayer Rights

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Yikes! A letter from the Internal Revenue Service! Do you have to respond? And if you do, what are your rights?

To answer the first question, responding is a good idea. Otherwise the IRS has to follow up and you’ll get more letters.

And while the letters can be nerve-wracking, you do have rights. Here are a few of them, per IRS Publication 1.

Courtesy comes first. If an IRS employee fails to treat you in a professional manner, you have the right to contact a supervisor, your IRS District Director or your Service Center Director.

Your secrets are safe. That means your privacy will be respected. The information you provide will not be disclosed to anyone except authorized personnel or as authorized by law.

The right to be informed. If further information is required, you have the right to ask why it’s needed and how it will be used.

In person or by mail. If the IRS sends a letter requesting additional documentation, you have the option of mailing the information or requesting a personal interview.

Convenience. Before an in-person interview is scheduled, you have the right to ask for a convenient time and place. Furthermore, if you’d rather not handle your tax problem by yourself, you can chose someone to represent you. Your representative must have your authorization and the credentials to practice before the IRS.

Special situations. When you’re having difficulty clearing up a tax problem, you have the right to ask for help from The National Taxpayer Advocate Problem Resolution Program (1-877-777-4778).

Other rights include requesting appeals, waivers and installment payments. You can find more information on-line in IRS Publication 1 (, or you can call 1-800-829-1040.

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