I do a lot of legal research, and I have been researching the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. This movement, led by taxpayer protests and the state of Colorado in 1992, has gained momentum in recent years and many states have joined the bandwagon. There are a lot different ways the states have approached the movement. Many state legislatures have taken the bull by the horn and passed Taxpayer Bill of Rights laws. Other states have allowed their Department of Revenue write their legal policies and procedures when it comes to dealing with the state’s taxpayers. Some of these Bills of Rights are good, and frankly, some of them are, in my opinion, a downright insult to taxpayers. States, when dealing with the issue of our taxpayer rights, should deal with the single issue alone in a professional and non-condescending manner.
The Arizona Department of Revenue (ADOR) has put out a publication for the purpose of informing you, the taxpayer, of your rights under Arizona tax laws. According to the publication, “the legislature passed these laws to promote fairness, confidentiality, and consistency of application of the tax laws. Arizona was the first state to have a Taxpayer Bill of Rights in 1986, and the 1994 updated version again puts us in the leadership role of protecting taxpayer rights, while ensuring that all taxpayers pay their fair share of the tax burden.” An overview of the Arizona version of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights goes like this, you have a right to:
- always be treated fairly and with courtesy by our employees;
- personal and financial information will be kept confidential;
- have your questions answered promptly and accurately regardless of the method you contact the DOR;
- have the knowledge the DOR does not evaluate any of their employees by the amount of taxes they collect or assess;
- publications explaining the collection, reporting, and payment of the taxes for the appropriate taxable classifications;
- have refunds promptly delivered to you;
- any interviews regarding deficiency in payment of any tax conducted at your place of business or at the closest Department of Revenue office and held at a reasonable time;
- have only one proposed assessment for any particular tax period for which cannot be increased except in specific limited circumstances;
- a six year statute of limitations on levies for the purpose of collecting taxes; and
- ask for an installment plan to pay the taxes.
Although these rights are not all inclusive, in my opinion, I do believe they are a refreshingly honest attempt at being professional and informative. In Contrast, the federal government has listed its Taxpayer Bill of Rights on its IRS website. It states you, as a taxpayer, have the right to:
- be treated professionally, fairly, promptly, and courteously by IRS employees and Private Collection Agencies contacting you on behalf of the IRS;
- disagree with your tax bill;
- meet with an IRS manager if you disagree with the IRS employee who handled your tax case;
- appeal most IRS collection actions;
- have your case transferred to a different IRS office if you have a valid reason;
- be represented by someone when dealing with IRS matters; and receive a receipt for any payments you make.
The main difference in the two Bill of Rights is that the Federal Bill of Rights explicitly states you have the right to be represented before the taxing entities. Not all things will go right for every taxpayer faced with being audited, so, it is a good idea that you have a tax attorney to represent you. If you live in or around the areas of Phoenix or Mesa, Arizona, and you have been faced with a taxing dilemma, contact us today. We will get you in touch with a tax lawyer in your area who will be able to help you answer all the questions you may have about tax law.