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

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FS-2015-13, March 2015 

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the Internal Revenue Service.

The “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” takes the multiple existing rights embedded in the tax code and groups them into 10 broad categories, making them easier to find and understand.

A list of your rights as a taxpayer and IRS obligations to protect them can be found in IRS Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer. 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.

  • There are limits on the amount of wages that can be levied (seized) in order to collect tax that you owe. A portion of wages equivalent to the standard deduction combined with any deductions for personal exemptions is protected from levy.
  • The IRS cannot seize certain personal items, such as necessary schoolbooks, clothing, undelivered mail, and certain amounts of furniture and household items. Additionally, the IRS cannot seize your personal residence without first getting court approval.
  • The IRS should not seek intrusive and extraneous information about your lifestyle during an audit if there is no reasonable indication 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 overall need for efficient collection of taxes with your legitimate concern that the IRS’s collection actions are no more intrusive than necessary.
  • More information about the IRS Privacy Policy is available online.

English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Russian and Vietnamese versions of Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer, are posted on IRS.gov. 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.

IRS Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 15-Jul-2016