Know your rights when you owe the IRS

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If you owe the IRS back taxes, chances are that you are feeling scared and powerless. But the good news is that even if you are partially in the wrong, you still have rights thanks to The IRS Restructuring and Reform Bill of 1998 and the more recently adopted Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Under these policies, the IRS has to fully communicate with taxpayers and afford them “due process” rights before pulling one of the many levers it has to make a taxpayer’s life miserable. Understanding your rights can make all of the difference when dealing with the IRS and back taxes.

Your right to be informed. The IRS has a duty to explain exactly what you need to do in order to comply with the tax laws. You also have a right to have all decisions made about your tax account explained to you in terms that you understand. However, you can’t just ignore the IRS’s attempts to inform you.

Your right to be treated fairly. When you meet with the IRS, you have to be treated fairly and courteously. If you are not happy with the way you are being treated, you have a right to speak with a supervisor.

Your right to be represented. You should not only meet with a tax expert before your meeting with the IRS, you should also bring representation with you to the meeting. You have a right to be represented and deal with the IRS through an attorney on your behalf.

Your right to only pay what you owe. The IRS cannot force you to pay taxes that you do not owe, which it has been known to do from time to time. Don’t always take the IRS’s word for what you owe, look into it yourself with the help of a tax professional.

Your right to options. If you can’t afford to pay the taxes you owe there are options available to you such as a hardship suspension, installment payments, an offer in compromise orbankruptcy. Finally, you cannot be thrown in jail for your inability to pay taxes.

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