Taxpayer Bill of Rights  

II. Explanation of the Bill

Title V. Revenue Offsets
C. Clarify & Expand Mathematical Error Procedures

(Sec. 5003 of the Bill and Sec. 6213(g)(2) of the Code)

Present Law

Taxpayer identification numbers ("TINs")

The IRS may deny a personal exemption for a taxpayer, the taxpayer's spouse or the taxpayer's dependents if the taxpayer fails to provide a correct TIN for each person for whom the taxpayer claims an exemption. This TIN requirement also indirectly effects other tax benefits currently conditioned on a taxpayer being able to claim a personal exemption for a dependent (e.g., head-of-household filing status and the dependent care credit). Other tax benefits, including the adoption credit, the child tax credit, the Hope Scholarship credit and Lifetime Learning credit, and the earned income credit also have TIN requirements. For most individuals, their TIN is their Social Security Number ("SSN"). The mathematical and clerical error procedure currently applies to the omission of a correct TIN for purposes of personal exemptions and all of the credits listed above except for the adoption credit.

Mathematical or clerical errors

The IRS may summarily assess additional tax due as a result of a mathematical or clerical error without sending the taxpayer a notice of deficiency and giving the taxpayer an opportunity to petition the Tax Court. Where the IRS uses the summary assessment procedure for mathematical or clerical errors, the taxpayer must be given an explanation of the asserted error and a period of 60 days to request that the IRS abate its assessment. The IRS may not proceed to collect the amount of the assessment until the taxpayer has agreed to it or has allowed the 60-day period for objecting to expire. If the taxpayer files a request for abatement of the assessment specified in the notice, the IRS must abate the assessment. Any reassessment of the abated amount is subject to the ordinary deficiency procedures. The request for abatement of the assessment is the only procedure a taxpayer may use prior to paying the assessed amount in order to contest an assessment arising out of a mathematical or clerical error. Once the assessment is satisfied, however, the taxpayer may file a claim for refund if he or she believes the assessment was made in error.

Reasons for Change

The Committee believes that it is appropriate to provide additional guidance to the Internal Revenue Service with respect to the application of the TIN requirement. It will also improve compliance to allow the IRS to use date of birth data, from the Social Security Administration, to determine ineligibility for the dependent care credit, the child tax credit and the earned income credit. Once this determination is made, the Committee believes that the IRS should use the mathematical and clerical error procedure to correctly assess the tax due with respect to affected tax returns.

Explanation of Provision

The bill provides in the application of the mathematical and clerical error procedure that a correct TIN is a TIN that was assigned by the Social Security Administration (or in certain limited cases, the IRS) to the individual identified on the return. For this purpose the IRS is authorized to determine that the individual identified on the tax return corresponds in every aspect (including, name, age, date of birth, and SSN) to the individual to whom the TIN is issued. The IRS also is authorized to use the mathematical and clerical error procedure to deny eligibility for the dependent care tax credit, the child tax credit, and the earned income credit even though a correct TIN has been supplied if the IRS determines that the statutory age restrictions for eligibility for any of the respective credits is not satisfied (e.g., the TIN issued for the child claimed as the basis of the child tax credit identifies the child as over the age of 17 at the end of the taxable year).

Effective Date

The provision is effective for taxable years ending after the date of enactment.

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