Can the Taxpayer Bill of Rights Assist Your Clients?
28 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2019
Date Written: January 15, 2019
Congress has added a Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR) to the Internal Revenue Code following the administrative adoption by the IRS of the identical slate of rights. The question for taxpayers and practitioners with respect to TBOR concerns its impact, if any, in seeking a remedy for certain IRS behavior.
Practitioners have begun to argue for remedies based on the rights enumerated in TBOR. Facebook became one of the first taxpayers to seek to use TBOR to obtain a right that the IRS had otherwise denied. The Tax Court found that the remedy Facebook sought based on perceived rights in TBOR was not a remedy the court could provide. In the Facebook case the IRS followed the guidance set forth in a Revenue Procedure.
Other taxpayers have also begun to test the waters with TBOR arguments. This paper analyzes several cases and several situations in which TBOR has arisen or might soon arise as the basis for seeking a remedy not otherwise available. The paper concludes that taxpayers will struggle to find a basis for remedy in TBOR when facing a specific statute, regulatory or even sub-regulatory guidance directing the IRS to take a specific path. TBOR could make a difference in situations in which the IRS has leeway in deciding what to do.
The specific area in which the IRS has great leeway in deciding the course of action it will pursue falls in the collection of taxes. So much of collection is driven by judgment and policy that it presents one of the primary areas in which TBOR could apply to assist taxpayers in reaching the remedy that best suits their situation in balance with the needs of the IRS. The paper discusses some collection situations in which TBOR could make a difference.
The other area where TBOR could make a difference is the formulation of regulatory and sub-regulatory guidance. The IRS should build a culture that embraces the goals of TBOR and uses them as it constructs its interactions with taxpayers. The paper discusses how this might happen.
TBOR has moved past its infancy but not far. There is much to learn about how TBOR will impact tax administration. Litigation will help to move TBOR to where Congress intended it to be or help to move Congress to reshape TBOR into the impact statement it intended.
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