The Internal Revenue Code guarantees taxpayers certain rights. However, many taxpayers are unaware of them, and IRS employees do not always communicate them at the right times. A recent nationwide survey found only 46% of U.S. taxpayers believed they have rights before the IRS, and only 11% knew what those rights were. This lack of awareness is compounded when IRS employees themselves don’t sufficiently understand taxpayer rights.
Many IRS employees receive only minimal training on taxpayer rights. Not all are given initial training on the subject, and the information is not regularly reinforced in later training. The IRS frequently relies on the Internal Revenue Manual to educate employees, but it often tells them to take a specific action without explaining the underlying taxpayer right or rights.
The IRS should provide employees with an overarching, comprehensive education about taxpayer rights, as well as training and guidance about how those rights apply in specific situations. Employees need a framework that shows them where fundamental taxpayer rights arise in their daily work and helps them communicate these rights to taxpayers.
Without comprehensive training on taxpayer rights, employees may continue to make poor decisions that harm taxpayers.