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Pahrump Mirror
Pahrump, Nevada
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March 27, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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March 27, 1997
 

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qt'c,"1 ,+"d!r ''I *nm,dq T'O',! r'r r-,-,,,fP " ",'" ,'T  ! Pahrump Valley Gazette, Thursday, March 27, 1997 15 US SenatorReid: Taxpayers Have Rights Over IRS Taxpayer Bill of Rights I and H Provide Assistance WASHINGTON--As the April 15 tax-filing deadline nears, Senator Harry Reid is reminding Ne- vadans of their rights when dealing with the Internal Revenue Service. Senator Reid authored the landmark Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which was signed by President Reagan in 1988 and became the first major law to protect Ameri- cans from an overzealous IRS. Reid pushed the bill through Congress after learning of an IRS under- cover operation in Nevada to snare hotel and casino workers. The original Taxpayer Bill of Rights em- powers the average citizen through the following: Guarantees the right to have an attorney repre- sent them before the IRS; Requires the IRS to clearly explain to their rights to them; Forbids the IRS from using quotas for audits or property seizures; and Allows for recovery of financial damages caused by the IRS. Not long after passing the historic rights bill, Senator Reid began work to further put citizens on equal footing with the IRS. Reid co-sponsored the Taxpayer Bill of Rights II, which was signed into law last year and provides greater protections as fol- lows: Requires IRS to pay legal bills for tax-collec- tion claims it loses; Set up a taxpayer advocate office to help those pursued by tax collectors; this advocacy office serves as the taxpayers voice within the IRS bureaucracy Boosts maximum damage that can be awarded to those wrongly harassed; and Guarantees taxpayers the right to set up an in- stallment plan for payments. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights I and II have been praised throughout the country for protecting hon- est, hardworking Americans from the tax bureau- cracy. "The IRS is a huge bureaucracy, and the power vested within this agency has led to aggressive, and sometimes unfair, tax collection," Reid said. "The Taxpayer Bill of Rights I and II are an effort to achieve fairness for all Americans. Nevadans who are being harassed or abused by the IRS should be aware the legal protections that are now available?' For more information about the taxpayer rights laws or help with problems related to the IRS, Sena- tor Reid encourages Nevadans to contact his office: Las Vegas 474-0041, Reno 686-5750, Carson City 882-7343. If the IRS can't balance its own books or keep its accounts straight, how can Uncle Sam's tax collector's expect the rest of us to do it? " The agency would be all over a taxpayer whose records were in the same shape. But after four years, they keep and they still can't reconcile the records of individual taxpayers with the $1.4 trillion in taxes col- lected in 1995 or the $122 billion they refunded. Nor can it verify a significant portion of the $3 billion you spent in non-payroll operating expenses such as travel because you couldn't produce supporting documenta- tion or because you recorded the expenses in the wrong year. Some startling facts about the IRS In a copyrighted article by Money online financial services, it was reported that more than 8 million Ameri- cans a year receive incorrect bills or refunds because of mistakes made entering information into comput- ers. More than $5 billion, has been wasted, since 1986 in a bollixed effort to modernize IRS computers. Taxpayers withheld and sometimes destroyed internal documents, making it difficult to fight back and all but impossible for Congress to hold the accountable for its actions. They seem to have forgotten that the "S" in IRS stands for service. A disheartening 57 percent of Americans in MONEY's statistically valid nationwide poll of 502 people consider your service fair or poor. And when the National Quality Research Center at the Univer- sity of Michigan Business School annually asks con- sumers to rank 200 companies and government offices on customer satisfaction, you consistently come in dead last - after the post office and garbage collectors. The Agency's accounting practices are so poor that the General Accounting Office the congressional watch- dog agency, has been unable to complete audits of their books for four straight years. Says Jeff Trinca, chief of staff for the IRS restructur- ing commission: "There is a sense in Congress that the nuts and bolts are popping off this ship. The feeling is we need to fundamentally reorganize the IRS." Most Americans agree, perhaps you recall that dur- ing the recent presidential campaign, one of Bob Dole's biggest applause lines was his pledge to "end the IRS as we know it?' Indeed, nearly 70 percent of those polled by MONEY said the IRS should be reformed; another 12 percent would abolish your agency altogether. Only one in four viewed you as "very trustworthy," While 11 percent felt it was not trustworthy at all. And a whop- ping 41 percent of those with incomes over $50,000 said that they don't think the IRS would treat them "fairly, consistently and with respect" during an audit. We realize, of course, that some of your inadequa- cies are not fully their fault. Your difficult job of col- lecting $1.4 trillion in taxes and processing more than 200 million returns annually is made even tougher by a wildly complicated 3,000-page tax code that Con- gress keeps changing. In 1996, a moderate tax reform year by historical standards, Congress keeps chang- ing. In 1996, a moderate tax reform year by historical standards, Congress passed laws requiring more than 650 alterations to the code. What's more, over the past two years, they cut the agency's budget nearly half a billion dollars, to $7 billion. Fumes Frank Heftier, presi- dent of the New York hapter of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), which represents most non- managerial employees: "Politicians are drumming up votes by promising to get rid of the "bad guys" mean- ing the IRS, when the "bad guys" are only doing what Congress told them to. It's unreal." And to be completely fair, the IRS have made some noteworthy progress recently to improve taxpayer ser- vice. Last year, for example, 3 million taxpayers were able to file their returns by phone through your new TeleFile system. Another 12 million now file electroni- cally, mainly through professional tax prepares. Their home page on the World Wide Web (www,irs, ustreas,gov), where taxpayers can retrieve forms and get answers to frequently asked questions, is first rate. And those who were lucky enough to get through by phone with a routine tax law question in 1996 had a 91 percent chance of receiving the right answer, up from 63 percent in 1989. As commissioner, Margaret Milner Rieb.ardson, told MONEY: "We don't do everything right. But we certainly don't do everything wrong:' Nonetheless, in corporate America, if 70 percent of a company's customers wanted drastic change, they would get it or the company would disappear, We realize that you may find our rigorous examination uncomfortable. "Many IRS employees and executives are as afraid of public scrutiny as the public is afraid of the IRS," says Shelly Davis, the former IRS historian and author of the upcoming book on your agency, "Un- bridled Power: Inside the Secret Culture of the IRS". iii Benjamin L. Smith Certified Public Accountant Audits - Accounting Services Income Tax Preparation Annex Professional Building 41 North Highway 160 Pahrump NV .... (702) 727-5566 00allstate B.y Cars Ca, h I ,,, 727-1050 .... I,