Talk is cheap. The North Korean constitution has a whole bunch of rights, per Wikisource. For example:
Article 70. Citizens have the right to work. All able-bodied citizens choose occupations in accordance with their wishes and skills and are provided with stable jobs and working conditions. Citizens work according to their abilities and are paid in accordance with the quantity and quality of their work.
Article 75. Citizens have freedom of residence and travel.
Article 78. Marriage and the family shall be protected by the State. The State pays great attention to consolidating the family, the basic unit of social life.
So written declaration of rights are just empty words when there is nothing behind them. That’s why I can’t get too excited about the big Taxpayer Bill of Rights announced by IRS Commissioner Koskinen and Taxpayer Advocate Olson yesterday.
Nothing to disagree with on the list, but what will the IRS do to make it more than empty words? Going down the list:
The Right to Be Informed. The IRS is infamously secretive. Will they no longer require Tax Analysts to sue them to make public their positions and procedures? Will the required compensation for S corproation employee- shareholders be only known to the whim of the examining agent?
The Right to Quality Service. The IRS continues to get worse at answering taxpayer questions. It seems like they are worse than ever at dealing with correspondence. It has become nearly impossible to reach IRS personnel in D.C. by phone to ask technical questions. Is the Commissioner going to change any of this?
The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax. The nearly-automatic assertion of penalties for every asserted deficiency will have to end for this to mean anything.
The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard. The consolidation of appeals offices and their seeming loss of independence will have to be reversed for this to mean something.
The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum. See you in Tax Court…
The Right to Finality. Does this mean IRS will enable offshore FBAR foot-faulters to come into compliance without facing financial ruin?
The Right to Privacy and The Right to Confidentiality. These are a big ones, and the IRS hasn’t been doing so well at them lately.
The Right to Retain Representation. Yet the IRS wants to choose who gets to do this for you. When the IRS can shut down your representative, he may not be a really zealous advocate.
The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System. This is something that the IRS can’t ultimately reach on its own — Congress designs the system — but it could sure do a lot better. When the IRS routinely assesses $10,000 penalties for filing Form 5271 one day late, when they effectively loot foreign pension accounts of expats for inconsequential paperwork violations, it’s hard to see the fairness and justice.
TaxProf has a roundup.
Robert W. Wood, IRS Reveals Taxpayer Bill Of Rights
Joseph Henchman, IRS Approves List of Taxpayer Rights (Tax Policy Blog). “My own addition is that much as requiring police to know and inform arrestees of “Miranda” warnings has increased awareness of those rights, so too will this.”
TaxGrrrl, IRS Releases Much Anticipated ‘Taxpayer Bill Of Rights’ “With the wrap up of filing season, the IRS is now in its peak correspondence mailing season. This was, according to Koskinen and Olson, the perfect time to introduce the rights since they will be mailed out together with those correspondences.”
Russ Fox, IRS Adopts “Taxpayer Bill of Rights;” Will Anything Change? “Until the IRS comes clean on the IRS scandal, what was released today makes a great sound bite but is otherwise nothing new. The IRS appears to have violated six of the ten rights, and is still stonewalling Congress on the scandal. The IRS’s budget won’t be increased because of today’s press release.”
Scott Drenkard, Richard Borean, When Did Your State Adopt Its Income Tax? (Tax Policy Blog):
No, they haven’t been around forever, it just feels that way. Wisconsin was first.
Jason Dinesen, Same-Sex Marriage and Amending Prior-Year Returns. “A broader way of asking the question is: if someone who’s in a same-sex marriage amends a prior-year return that they had previously filed as a single person due to the Defense of Marriage Act, must that amended return show a filing status of married?”
William Perez, Home Office Deduction
Keith Fogg, Government Drops Appeal in Rand Case (Procedurally Taxing). This is the case where the Tax Court ruled that a recovery of refundable credits in excess of income tax was not a “deficiency” for computing penalties.
Jack Townsend, Reminder: Category 2 Banks Will Serve Up Their U.S. Depositors . Consider banking secrecy dead.
Brian Strahle provides a list of state and local tax blog resources.
Alan Cole, Japan’s Tax Reforms and its Blockbuster GDP Growth (Tax Policy Blog):
Paired together, theory would predict that these two tax changes create a structural shift in the Japanese economy; the more favorable corporate tax climate would encourage investment, and some income would be spent on that new investment instead of immediate consumption. Over the long term, this will boost Japanese wealth and productivity, and eventually allow for a higher standard of living than before.
The data fit this theory so far; private nonresidential investment grew at a “blockbuster” rate of 7.6% in the first quarter of 2014.
David Brunori, A Coke and a Smile and a Tax (Tax Analysts Blog). ” It would tax a can of Coke, but if you went to Starbucks and dumped five teaspoons of sugar into your latte, there would be no additional tax.”
TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 398
Going Concern, Ex-BDO Vice Chairman Given 16 Months to Think About His Choices. He will retire to a Bureau of Prisons meditation facility.
He was ashen after the sentence was announced. Gray man sentenced to 18 months for tax evasion