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You might be wondering if the IRS can, with impunity, just keep after you year after year about every little detail of a single year's return. That's where the Right to Finality comes in. One aspect of the right to finality is the right to know the maximum time the IRS has to audit a particular tax year. You also have the right to know how much time you have to challenge an IRS decision, how long the IRS can come after you for a tax debt, and when the IRS is finished with an audit.

The IRS generally can go back three years to audit a return. If they find a substantial error, they can go back 6 years. The IRS is not in the business of trying to force taxpayers to pay more taxes, but the tax law has to be applied and administered correctly. That IS their job. Once they come to a decision, the IRS will inform you in most correspondence how long you have to respond, how long you have to pay any additional tax, and how long you have to challenge their decision. Those deadlines are hard and fast so don't put anything off. If you miss a deadline, you may lose all chance of challenging the IRS's decision.

In most of the correspondence that i have seen, the IRS gives you thirty (30) to ninety (90) days to respond or file with the Tax Court. Read your correspondence carefully. As I said before, deadlines are hard and fast so take note of them. Once a decision or tax amount is determined, the IRS will inform you about how and when to pay. You can even, in most cases, set up a payment plan to make it easier for you to fulfill your tax obligation.

The notices you receive from the IRS will always be written and not by phone or email. Once you have been audited and the IRS is complete they WILL send you a final letter letting you know the final decision. They will not "leave you hanging." The IRS does not want cases to be unresolved or in limbo due to tax being uncollectable. The IRS has procedures for almost every case.

Rest assured, once you start working with the IRS, they do and want to end each and every audit or collection. It may seem as if there is no end in sight, but the IRS does want to bring an end to to each case and you, as a taxpayer, have the Right to Finality when it comes to the IRS. If you are not satisfied with the pace or the constant back and forth, talk to a supervisor.They will work with you to get the issue or issues resolved.

Recently, there was an article put out by the American Association of Notaries entitled "Why are Notary Journal Entires Important?". It talks about the use of journal entries that some notaries are required to do and some are recommended to do. Whether it is required all depends on the laws in the state in which you are a notary. 

In my opinion, these entries are not only important but vital and should be mandatory. The article writer mentions that she takes out her journal as the first thing she does when notarizing a document for a signer. It reminds her the steps to take and what is required by her state to do a notary as those things are notated in her journal entry. 

In California where I am a notary, a journal is a requirement. I also use it to remind me of what is needed, when to get the information and to make sure all is correct with the signer and the signers ID. There is one signer for whom I have done several notaries. Even though we are friendly with each other having worked together so many times, I am always ask for his ID and get a thumbprint for the journal entry. I get a thumbprint even though it is not required by law since it is another method of making sure I have gotten the same person's signature each time I have notarized a document for him. It protects him and me in the notarization process. I can't imagine why any state doesn't require journal entries to be made for each notarization. It's part of the process I use to protect against fraud and to make sure that the process is done correctly each and every time. 

The next right enumerated on the Taxpayer Bill of Rights is the Right to Appeal an IRS decision. You have to right to hold that appeal in an independent forum.  That appeal will be handled by the independent Office of Appeals which is independent of the IRS but located within the IRS. The Office of Appeals was set up to help taxpayers and the government resolve the tax issues and disagreements that may come up during the administration of the complex US tax system.You are entitled to a fair and impartial administrative appeal of the IRS's decision, including many penalty decisions, and the right to have a written response regarding the Office of Appeals' decisions.

Once the IRS makes a decision, you can appeal it. The Office of Appeals takes no sides in the disputes that come to them. You can present information that supports your request for a different decision and you will get a written response from the Office of Appeals.  Once the Office of Appeals comes out with a decision, you can either accept their decision or appeal it further. That would bring you to the US Tax Court. You can find out more information of how to bring a case to this court via its website at

The US Tax Court is a Federal trial court. It is here in order that taxpayers can bring various cases to be decided regarding decisions of the IRS. It is a specialized court but not a court of final decision. Many taxpayers have brought cases to the US Tax Court but later appealed its decisions, including up to the US Supreme Court.

No matter what level your decision is at, be it at the IRS, the Office of Appeals, the US Tax Court,  or even the US Supreme Court, your tax dispute will be adjudicated and a final decision will be rendered. More on that in our next blog post regarding the Right to Finality.

In an earlier post, I talked about how Notaries identify signers. You can read that post here. This year, there have been some changes to what forms of ID can be used by Notaries to identify signers of documents. The forms of ID now acceptable to use are:

1 Identification card or driver’s license from State of California;

2 US Passport;

3 An ID card or driver’s license from another state or by a an Canadian or Mexican public agency authorized to issue Drivers Licenses;

4 An employee id card issued by an agency or office of the State of California or an agency or office of a city, county, or city and county in California;

(And new this year, a Notary can use)

5. A tribal identification card from a federally recognized tribal government;

6. A consular identification card and a foreign passport without further qualification;

7. Any form of ID issued by a sheriff's department that is current or has been issued in the past 5 years for a prisoner in custody in a county jail or local detention facility.

If the signer does not have one of the above IDs that is valid, there still is a way they can be identified for purposes of a notarization. It's called using a Credible Witness. A signer's identity can be verified by a single Credible Witness that the notary public personally knows or by two Credible WItnesses who are not personally known to the notary public. In both of the Credible Witness situations, the notary needs to be able to identify by ID the Credible Witness(es) using the IDs listed above. No matter what, someone, the Credible Witness(es) or the signer him/herself, must have a valid ID. NO EXCEPTIONS!

You have the right to challange the IRS and to be heard. If you've gotten a notice from the IRS and they say you owe them money, don't rush out and pay them because that is not the end of the discussion. You have a right to challenge what they say in their notice. They do give you a limited amount of time to respond, but you should respond. Carefully read over the notice, get advice if you need to, and then respond in the manner they ask. You can't just call them and say, "You got it wrong", because the IRS usually needs documentation to show why you believe the way you do. You need to substantiate the view you have taken.

You can get copies of records and written info on the tax code and fax or mail it to them. The IRS will consider your objections in a prompt and fair manner. Don't expect a fast response,  but you will get a response. The IRS will respond either indicating they agree with you or that they disagree with your argument and why. There is a limited amount of time that you can argue with the IRS and they will always give you deadlines. DO NOT IGNORE THOSE DEADLINES!

The IRS is not there to "get you" or "steal your money". There is a tax code they must follow and you can disagree and point out where you think they are wrong. They will listen. Eventually there will be a final decision, one way or another. But that still isn't the end of your rights. The next "Taxpayer's Rights" post has to do with appealing the "final notice" of the IRS.