The office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has released a report showing that IRS employees continue to use now prohibited language like “tax protester” and (our personal favorite) “Constitutionally-challenged” in reference to non-compliant taxpayers, despite being barred from doing so since 1998.
Congress enacted the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 (RRA 98) Section 3707 to prohibit the IRS from labeling taxpayers as “Illegal Tax Protesters” or any similar designations. However, IRS employees continue to refer to taxpayers by these designations in case narratives. Using “Illegal Tax Protester” or other similar designations may stigmatize taxpayers and may cause employee bias in future contacts with these taxpayers.
Prior to enactment of the RRA 98, the IRS used the Illegal Tax Protester Program to identify individuals and businesses that were using methods that were not legally valid to protest the tax laws. Employees identified taxpayers for referral to the program when their tax returns or correspondence contained specific indicators of noncompliance with the tax law, such as the use of arguments that had been repeatedly rejected by the courts. There were tax protester coordinators who were responsible for determining whether a taxpayer should be included in the Illegal Tax Protester Program; if a taxpayer was classified as an Illegal Tax Protester, the taxpayer’s record was coded as such on the Master File. Once a taxpayer’s account was coded, certain tax enforcement actions were accelerated. The designation was also intended to alert employees to be cautious so they would not be drawn into confrontations with taxpayers.
The IRS has not reintroduced past Illegal Tax Protester codes or similar designations on taxpayer accounts. In addition, the Internal Revenue Manual no longer contains any Illegal Tax Protester references. However, TIGTA found that out of approximately 3.6 million records and cases, there were 38 instances in which 34 employees had referred to taxpayers as “Tax Protester,” “Constitutionally Challenged,” or other similar designations in case narratives on the computer systems analyzed.
The TIGTA made no recommendations after their report, as the IRS has continued to use the term “tax protester” in taxpayer case files when it sees fit, despite the fact that the TIGTA feels this is not in compliance with RRA 98 § 3707 for obvious reasons.
It appears they do this once a year:
The TIGTA Would Prefer It if the IRS Could Use a Nicer Term Than “Tax Protester”