Good IRS customer service now a taxpayer right

Tuesday - 6/10/2014, 4:14pm EDT

By Stephanie Wasko
Special to Federal News Radio

Employees of the Internal Revenue Service can now point to something concrete to help citizens understand their taxpayer rights. Today, the IRS adopted the "Taxpayer Bill of Rights," which clearly outlines the 10 rights taxpayers have when they deal with the agencies.

During a press conference Tuesday, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said the adoption of the "Taxpayer Bill of Rights" came after he spent the spring visiting 28 agency offices around the country and spoke with more than 10,000 employees.

He said he also spent time discussing options to improve customer service with National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, who, for the last several years, has listed a Taxpayer Bill of Rights as her top priority in her annual reports to Congress.

IRS Taxpayer Bill of Rights
  1. The right to be informed

  2. The right to quality service

  3. The right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax

  4. The right to challenge the IRS' position and be heard

  5. The right to appeal an IRS decision in an independent forum

  6. The right to finality

  7. The right to privacy

  8. The right to confidentiality

  9. The right to retain representation

  10. The right to a fair and just tax system

"I have been struck by how much time, effort and resources we put into helping taxpayers," Koskinen said. "It did seem to me that it would help factors and improve our working relationship with them if they understood that they have rights and that we respect those rights and we are comfortable with them asserting them when it is appropriate."

The "Taxpayer Bill of Rights" provides employees a single point of reference to remind themselves and taxpayers of their rights and how to exercise them.

"It seemed important to us," Koskinen said. "When we contact a taxpayer, it's helpful for them to know: This is what our question is and here are your rights."

In this aspect, the bill will greatly simplify work for employees as well as enable them to provide better customer service, he said.

The right to quality service is included in the bill.

Koskinen said he found many IRS employees were concerned about their ability to provide the kind of service they believed taxpayers deserve — especially with limited resources.

"This is a message to Congress," Olson said. "By articulating these rights, you have to give the IRS the resources to be able to realize these rights effectively."

She said she hopes that the adoption of the bill will influence Congress to provide more funding for the agency.

Stephanie Wasko is an intern with Federal News Radio.

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