Taxpayer Bill of Rights 10: The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights is a cornerstone document that highlights the 10 fundamental rights taxpayers have when dealing with the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS wants every taxpayer to be aware of these rights in the event they need to work with the IRS on a personal tax matter. The IRS continues to publicly highlight these rights to taxpayers. The IRS also regularly reminds its employees about these rights. The IRS expects employees to understand and apply taxpayer rights throughout every encounter with taxpayers.

IRS Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer, includes a full list of taxpayers’ rights.

It includes The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System.

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 are experiencing financial difficulty or if the IRS has not resolved their tax issues properly and timely through its normal channels.

What you can expect:

  • If you can’t pay your tax debt in full and you meet certain conditions, you can get a payment plan with the IRS. You pay a set amount over time, generally in monthly payments. See the IRS Online Payment Agreement Application.
  • You can submit an offer in compromise asking the IRS to settle your tax debt for less than the full amount. You can do this if (1) you believe you do not owe all or part of the tax debt, (2) you are unable to pay the full amount within the time permitted by law to collect it, or (3) paying the full amount would cause financial hardship or would be unjust.
  • The IRS has published a list of national and local guidelines about the basic costs of living. You can use it when considering an offer to reduce your tax debt. The IRS won’t use these guidelines if they result in your not having enough money to pay your basic living expenses. The IRS would use your actual expenses instead.
  • The IRS cannot levy, or seize, all of your wages to collect your unpaid tax. A portion will be exempt from levy to allow you to pay basic living expenses.
  • You can receive help from the Taxpayer Advocate Service or from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.
  • The IRS can abate the unpaid portion of any tax or liability, and is specifically authorized to abate interest that is excessive or interest that was assessed erroneously, illegally, or after the statutory period of limitations on collection has expired.
  • The IRS can abate interest on an underpayment caused by unreasonable delay or error by an IRS employee if the taxpayer (or representative) did not contribute to the delay or error.

To find out more about the TBOR and what it means to you visit the Taxpayer Advocate Service’s website.

By making this important publication available in multiple languages, the IRS hopes to increase the number of Americans who know and understand their rights under the tax law. The IRS has more tax information in other languages too. See the “Languages” menu at the bottom of any page.

The IRS also is committed to protecting taxpayers’ civil rights. The IRS will not tolerate discrimination based on age, color, disability, race, reprisal, national origin, English proficiency, religion, sex, sexual orientation or status as a parent. This includes any contact with IRS employees and the staff or volunteers at community sites.

If a taxpayer faces discrimination, they can send a written complaintPDF to the IRS Civil Rights Division.

Additional IRS Resources

IRS Publication 1