You may have few positive images in your mind when you hear the words Internal Revenue Service. You may think of the long, grueling hours you spend gathering documentation and completing your tax returns. You certainly recall the shocking total you may have owed on your income tax last year. You may dread the idea that the IRS may one day audit your personal or business accounts.
While it is easy to think of the IRS as an all-knowing, all-powerful government entity, the truth is that you have some basic rights when it comes to dealing with the agency entrusted with enforcing the nation’s tax laws. In fact, the IRS makes great effort to educate the public about the fundamental rights that apply to every interaction with the government agency. One important right is the right to finality.
What does this right include?
The right to finality is one of 10 specific rights the government acknowledges when it comes to any dealings with the IRS. This right simply means that the IRS cannot chase you indefinitely to collect unpaid taxes, and it cannot re-evaluate old claims and assess additional taxes once a certain amount of time has passed. Unless you have filed a fraudulent return or no return at all, the IRS must complete any assessments within three years. Other guarantees associated with your right to finality include the following:
- You typically have three years to request a refund if you believe you overpaid what you owed on your taxes.
- Unless agents suspect you have committed fraud, the IRS may not audit you more than once a tax year.
- Unless your installment agreement extends longer, the IRS may not pursue the collection of unpaid taxes for longer than 10 years.
- The IRS must give you a clear deadline for when you can challenge any additional tax amounts the agency proposes.
- The IRS must inform you when it has completed an audit of your taxes.
Of course, many of these rights include exceptions. For example, if the IRS suspends its collection actions because you have filed for bankruptcy, the agency may resume collections when the bankruptcy is complete, even if more than 10 years have passed. Even though these rights are meant to protect you, they can be complex. Therefore, if you are facing a dispute with the IRS, you would be wise to allow a skilled Missouri tax attorney to review your case and offer advice on the most appropriate course of action.