Regardless of what prompts an IRS examination, aka an audit, take advantage of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights guarantee that you can get professional help to get you through the process.
In an expected follow-up to reports that Donald J. Trump, while in the Oval Office, wanted the Internal Revenue Service to audit his perceived foes, a House tax writing committee member is asking for an investigation into the former president.
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-New Jersey), who chairs the Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee until the next GOP-controlled House is sworn in, wrote the Attorney General this week asking that the Department of Justice open a criminal probe.
The Treasury Inspector for Tax Administration (TIGTA) already is looking into the circumstances surrounding rarely used audits of two top FBI officials, former FBI director James B. Comey and his deputy, Andrew G. McCabe. Trump blamed the pair for investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Criminal investigation sought: Pascrell says that even with the TIGTA inquiry, an additional look into possible criminal actions is warranted.
"Corrupting the integrity of our tax agency is a gravely serious offense. Nobody is above the law," Pascrell wrote in his letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland.
He characterized Trump's actions as attempts to weaponize the IRS against perceived political enemies, and called it "a major scandal."
"These revelations must be fully investigated by the Department of Justice, with any criminal behavior held to full account," wrote Pascrell. "The American people need to know that IRS is not subject to political influence and is focused on administering our tax system with competence and honesty."
Professional tax help is a taxpayer right: After the intensive National Research Program (NRP) audits, which are rare and reportedly random, Comey and his wife received a $347 refund. The McCabes ended up owing the U.S. Treasury a small amount, which they paid.
The former FBI officials no doubt had top-notch representation during their IRS encounters.
The right to retain representation in dealings with the IRS is one of the agency's 10-point Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The full list, with the links going to official IRS details, is —
- The right to be informed — Taxpayers have the right to know what they need to do to comply with the tax laws.
- The right to quality service — Taxpayers have the right to receive prompt, courteous and professional assistance when working with the IRS and the freedom to speak to a supervisor about inadequate service.
- The right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax — Taxpayers have the right to pay only the amount of tax legally due, including interest and penalties, and to have the IRS apply all tax payments properly.
- The right to challenge the IRS's position and be heard — Taxpayers have the right to object to formal IRS actions or proposed actions and provide justification with additional documentation.
- The right to appeal an IRS decision in an independent forum — Taxpayers are entitled to a fair and impartial administrative appeal of most IRS decisions, including certain penalties.
- The right to finality — Taxpayers have the right to know the maximum amount of time they have to challenge an IRS position and the maximum amount of time the IRS must audit a particular tax year or collect a tax debt.
- The right to privacy — Taxpayers have the right to expect that any IRS inquiry, examination or enforcement action will comply with the law and be no more intrusive than necessary.
- The right to confidentiality — Taxpayers have the right to expect that their tax information will remain confidential.
- The right to retain representation — Taxpayers have the right to retain an authorized representative of their choice to represent them in their interactions with the IRS.
- The right to a fair and just tax system — Taxpayers have the right to expect fairness from the tax system. This includes considering all facts and circumstances that might affect their liabilities, ability to pay or provide information timely.
If you are ever involved in a federal tax situation, make sure you familiarize yourself with the IRS Taxpayer of Rights, as well as the provisions of the Taxpayer First Act, the first major reform of the tax agency since 1986 that became law in mid-2019.
And definitely take advantage of right #9 and get a good tax adviser.
You also might find these items of interest:
- Do you live in a tax audit hot spot?
- Preparing for a possible IRS tax audit
- IRS emphasizes its commitment to taxpayer privacy
- Tax audit odds are low, but if it happens be prepared