What is the 'Taxpayer Bill Of Rights -TABOR'

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights -TABOR is a broad term encompassing many concepts and initiatives at the federal, state and local level of the United States and some other countries.

TABOR sometimes refers to ballot initiatives designed to limit the government’s power of taxation.

Specifically, it references a law passed by Congress in 1988 and amended in 1996 that specifies how the IRS must handle appeals and liens related to challenges by taxpayers.

Finally, TABOR can refer to a charter adopted by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in 2014 that spells out the rights of American taxpayers.

BREAKING DOWN 'Taxpayer Bill Of Rights -TABOR'

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights -TABOR, first promoted by conservative and libertarian groups in the 1980s, sought to limit the powers of government to assess and collect taxes. It was not actually a charter of rights but, rather, sought to tie increases in taxes caused by such factors as inflation and population to a referendum. Colorado voters passed a version of the measure in 1992. TABOR referendums in Maine, Nebraska and Oregon failed to pass, and TABOR laws exist in no other states, although they do appear in some counties and cities.

Tabor II Passed by Congress

The TABOR passed by Congress in 1988, now called TABOR II after the 1996 amendments, does not address tax rates or increases but rather ensures taxpayers of fair treatment during audits and assessments. For example, the law gives taxpayers 10-21 days to meet payment demands without incurring interest, depending on the amount owed. It restricts the tax agency’s ability to impose property liens. And it requires the IRS to prove its case against a taxpayer, or refund the taxpayer for attorney’s fees, among many other requirements.

TABOR in the IRS Code

The 2014 Taxpayer Bill of Rights in the Internal Revenue Code is just that: a charter of ten broad rights of taxpayers. These rights were not new in 2014; TABOR simply gathered various rights that were already in the U.S. tax code and presented them in one document. The initiative was the result of work by the agency’s independent National Taxpayer Advocate, Nina Olson, in response to concerns that the IRS had grown unresponsive to taxpayers. Given that the rights already existed in the tax code, many viewed the IRS TABOR as a reaffirmation, seeking:

  • The right to be informed
  • The right to quality service
  • The right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax
  • The right to challenge the IRS’s position and to be heard
  • The right to appeal an IRS decision in an independent forum
  • The right to finality
  • The right to privacy
  • The right to confidentiality
  • The right to retain representation
  • The right to a fair and just tax system
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