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IRS Tax TipsApril 26, 2024

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Issue Number: Tax Tip 2024-39

What the right to a fair and just tax system means for taxpayers

Tax fairness means the tax system is equitable to all citizens. The right to a fair and just tax system is one of 10 rights in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which clearly outlines the fundamental rights of every taxpayer.

Here’s what the IRS wants all taxpayers to know about what this right means:

  • Taxpayers have the right to expect the tax system to consider facts and circumstances that might affect their underlying liabilities, ability to pay or ability to provide information timely.

  • Taxpayers have the right to receive assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service if they’re experiencing financial difficulty resolving their tax issues properly and timely through normal IRS channels.

  • Taxpayers who cannot pay their tax debt in full and meet certain conditions can arrange a payment plan with the IRS. This means the taxpayer will pay a set amount over time, generally monthly.

  • Taxpayers can submit an offer in compromise asking the IRS to settle their tax debt for less than the full amount if they:
    • Believe they don’t owe all or part of the tax debt.
    • Are unable to pay all the tax debt within the time permitted by law to collect.
    • Have factors such as equity, hardship or public policy they think the IRS should consider in determining whether to settle the liability.

  • The IRS has a list of national and local guidelines covering the basic costs of living that it uses when considering a settlement offer reducing someone’s tax debt. IRS employees cannot use these guidelines if they would result in the taxpayer not having enough money to pay their basic living expenses. In these cases, the IRS will use the taxpayer’s actual expenses.

  • The IRS cannot seize all of someone’s wages to collect their unpaid tax. A portion is exempt from levy to allow the taxpayer to pay basic living expenses.

  • The IRS has the authority to decrease an excessive unpaid portion of any tax or liability assessed after the statutory period of limitations has expired or is erroneously or illegally assessed.

  • The IRS has the discretion to decrease interest on an underpayment when an IRS employee caused an unreasonable delay or error and when no significant aspect of the error is attributed to the taxpayer.

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