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Your Rights and IRS

Your rights as a taxpayer are outlined in IRS Publication 1. It is important to know your rights when you contact the IRS. Your rights in a matter of tax laws and taxation outlined in IRS Publications include the followings rights:

The IRS should explain your rights during any contact with the IRS

The IRS should explain to you what your rights are during any contact with the IRS. However, in reality, don't leave it to the IRS to explain your rights to you. Know your rights in advance before you contact the IRS so that you can ensure that your tax situation is being handled in the correct and fair manners.

The IRS respects your right to privacy and confidentiality

The IRS will always respect your right to privacy and the confidentiality of the information contained on any tax return. Because there are severe penalties for violating the tax disclosure laws, the IRS is very good at observing your rights in the privacy and confidentiality area.

The IRS allows CPA, tax attorneys, or tax professionals

You are always permitted to have professional representation such as certified public accountants or CPA, tax attorneys, or other tax professionals during any contact with the IRS. The IRS is typically very good at allowing tax payers to exercise their right to professional representation.

The basic difference between tax attorneys and certified public accountants or CPA is the formal education they undergo and the availability of confidentiality. The CPA is trained in accounting, which will include some tax training, while the tax attorney has a tax law degree and usually some formal training or experience with tax issues.

Privacy and confidentiality

Tax attorneys can give you more confidentiality. The confidentiality given by tax attorneys is called the attorney - client privilege. Tax attorneys cannot be forced to reveal details of your tax case.  A CPA gives less confidentiality.

Limited practitioner privilege

The Tax Reform Act of 1998 added a limited practitioner privilege which benefits the CPA. This limited practitioner privilege provides some added confidentiality for discussions between a tax practitioner and a tax payer concerning tax advice. However, this limited practitioner privilege does not extend to criminal matters. Thus, it is not as good as the attorney - client privilege offered by tax attorneys.

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Tax Questions