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Customer Service - taxpayer rights, good service & still collect the taxes

The Restructuring and Reform Act was truly a landmark in the history of the IRS. It laid out a fundamentally new direction for the agency - the first one since Harry Truman was in the White House. Since there are many detailed and complex provisions in the Bill, including 71 new taxpayer rights, it's easy to get lost in specifics and overlook the whole picture. Through this Act, the IRS was given a new direction and a new challenge, namely to measure its success or failure in terms of its effect on the people it serves as well as the taxes it collects. This new direction relies heavily on improved management, improved business practices, and improved technology.

Office of the Privacy Advocate

The IRS protects taxpayers's privacy by collecting and using only the amount of information we need to get our jobs done. All of our new information programs and systems go through a formal review process. This ensures that only authorized IRS employees have access to your information, and that they use it only as the law allows and then properly safeguard it afterward. In addition, we can only disclose your tax return information according to the law. The IRS created the Office of the Privacy Advocate, the first of its kind in the federal government or private industry, to develop and implement privacy strategy and policy for IRS. There is an actual individual whose job is to protect your privacy. The Privacy Advocate's Web page is at and the email address is [email protected].

Taxpayer Rights

The IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, signed into law on July 22, 1998, contains the Taxpayer Bill of Rights 3. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights 3 preserves the balance between safeguarding the rights of the individual taxpayers and enabling the Internal Revenue Service to administer the tax laws efficiently, fairly, and with the least amount of burden to the taxpayer.

Under this Bill, taxpayer rights were expanded in several areas:

  • The burden of proof shifted to the IRS in certain court proceedings.
  • In certain cases, taxpayers may be awarded damages and fees, and get liens released.
  • Penalties will be eased when the IRS exceeds specified time limits between when a return is filed and when the taxpayer is notified of a tax liability.
  • Interest will be eliminated in certain cases involving federally-declared disaster areas.
  • There are new rules for collection actions by levy.
  • Innocent spouse relief provisions are strengthened.
  • In certain situations, taxpayer-requested installment agreements must be accepted. Taxpayers will get annual status reports of their installment agreements.

The IRS revised Publications 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer, and 1SP, Derechos del Contribuyente, to incorporate Taxpayer Bill of Rights 3 with some of the most important rights. These publications can be downloaded from the IRS Web site or ordered through the IRS by calling 1-800-829-3676.

Good Service

In conjunction with the implementation of new taxpayer rights, the IRS has made many improvements in customer service. The Agency expanded hours of operations nationwide for both its tax assistance toll-free lines and its walk-in assistance at convenient locations. The Agency further increased options for filing and paying electronically, improved access to the taxpayer advocate, and set up problem solving days in communities nationwide to resolve particularly difficult tax cases.

Still Collect the Taxes

The IRS works around the clock to provide revised tax materials to taxpayers. Publications, forms, instructions, booklets, brochures, CD-ROMs, videos, etc., reflect the latest tax legislation. These products are available to help taxpayers meet their tax responsibilities. Publication 553, Highlights of 2000 Tax Changes, is a collection of the latest tax law changes that may affect you this filing season. You can download Publication 553 and nearly 100 other tax publications listed in this booklet from the IRS Web site, and you can request a free copy of any IRS tax publication by calling the IRS at 1-800-829-3676.

Advances in technology have provided new tools and new skills and have enabled significant improvements in operating processes and procedures. Currently, the IRS is capitalizing on these advances and is undertaking the enormous job of modernizing and replacing information computer systems designed in the early '60s. These improvements will greatly enhance the Agency´s ability to achieve its goal of top quality service including timely and accurate responses to the taxpayers.

Restructuring a new IRS that meets new expectations of the public and the Congress will require years of sustained effort. The new IRS mission statement, "Provide America's taxpayers top quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities and by applying the tax law with integrity and fairness to all, clearly points to the Agency's new direction. In the past two years, the IRS has clarified its direction, developed a new attitude, and created new and exciting business practices. The IRS has taken the first bold steps toward achieving the goals as directed in the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998.


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