Aug 20 2010
WASHINGTON -Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) has joined 11 other cosponsors and sponsor Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) in supporting legislation that will give taxpayers more protection and enhance their rights. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights Act would protect taxpayers from fraudulent tax return preparers, clarify taxpayers' rights and obligations, improve taxpayer services by encouraging the IRS to provide enhanced service to low-income taxpayers, and reduce the burden of the IRS's tax lien procedures.
"I am proud to support this common-sense set of reforms that will inform, protect, and empower American taxpayers," said Sen. Carper. "Too many Americans are left in the dark when it comes to understanding their rights and responsibilities as taxpayers, and too many suffer at the hands of deceitful tax preparers when seeking assistance. Drafted in consultation with the National Taxpayer Advocate, this legislation would reform IRS procedures to ensure that it serves as an advocate for the taxpayer, providing important guidance to all Americans to help them fulfill this annual responsibility."
Unlike many other professions, certain types of tax preparers are not regulated by state or federal laws. Although many preparers are well-trained and maintain high ethical standards, some untrained and deceitful tax return preparers present a significant problem to tax compliance. In some cases taxpayers are subject to audits due to mistakes made by these unregulated tax preparers. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights Act addresses this problem by enacting a sensible regulatory system for un-enrolled preparers. The new system implements a basic background check and ethics examination for tax preparer seeking registration and authorized by the U.S. Department of Treasury. The bill also requires tax return preparers to satisfy certain continuing education requirements and requires the U.S. Department of Treasury to maintain and publish a comprehensive list of all authorized tax return preparers for taxpayers.
Additionally, the bill would create a comprehensive, easy-to-understand Taxpayer Bill of Rights detailing all taxpayers' rights and obligations. Taxpayers' rights are buried in the tax code and the Internal Revenue Manual, but they are not easily accessible and they are written in highly technical language that is difficult for many taxpayers to understand.
Finally, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights Act addresses the issue of taxpayer services. Significantly, the bill requires the IRS to make individualized determinations before the IRS files a tax lien and requires the IRS to consider several factors before these determinations are made, such as the taxpayer's compliance history and any extenuating circumstances. In addition, the bill expresses the "Sense of the Senate" that the IRS should accelerate refunds to the taxpayer. Finally, the bill recommends that the IRS expand assistance to low-income taxpayers by allocating some current resources to establish a pilot program for satellite walk-in assistance centers to be established in rural, underserved communities.