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Taxpayer Bill of Rights: #7, The Right to Privacy

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 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, and will respect all due process rights, including search and seizure protections and will provide, where applicable, a collection due process hearing.

What you can expect:

  • There are limits on the amount of wages that the IRS can levy (seize) to collect tax that you owe. A portion of your wages are protected from levy. The protected amount is the equivalent to the standard deduction, plus any deductions for personal exemptions.
  • The IRS can’t seize certain personal items, such as necessary schoolbooks, clothing, undelivered mail and certain amounts of furniture and household items. The IRS also can’t seize your primary home without court approval. It also must show there is no reasonable, alternative way to collect the tax debt from you.
  • If you submit an offer to settle your tax debt, and the offer relates only to how much you owe (known as a Doubt as to Liability Offer in Compromise), you do not need to submit any financial documentation.
  • The IRS should not seek intrusive and extraneous information about your lifestyle during an audit if there is no reasonable sign that you have unreported income.
  • During a Collection Due Process hearing, the Office of Appeals must consider whether the IRS’s proposed collection action balances the need for efficient tax collection with ensuring the IRS’s collection actions are no more intrusive to you than necessary.
  • More information about the IRS Privacy Policy is available online.

To find out more about the TBOR and what it means to you, visit: http://www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov

The IRS offers Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer, in several languages.

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 top of any IRS.gov 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 complaint to the IRS Civil Rights Division.

Additional IRS Resources