Let's be real-- taxes can be very intimidating. Throw in Obamacare penalties, which are reconciled on your tax return, and there is a temptation to shut down, or even worse, not pay.  That's never a good idea.

Keep in mind that the IRS works for you, and as a "customer" you, and every taxpayer, are entitled to good service--in both a legal and practical sense. In an effort to simplify things for you, the IRS has come up with the "Taxpayer Bill of Rights" which takes your many existing rights in the tax code and groups them into 10 categories.

Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer, highlights a list of your entitlements.  You can dig into this or, if you want the easy version, here goes:

  1. The Right to Be Informed. That's defined as knowing what is required to comply with the tax laws. You're entitled to clear explanations of the laws and IRS procedures on all forms, instructions, publications, notices and correspondence. The IRS is required to alert you to decisions affecting your accounts and provide clear explanations of the outcomes.
  1. The Right to Quality Service. Really, you do. And really, the IRS wants to deliver prompt, courteous and professional assistance when you deal with it. And if you don't get good service, you have the freedom to speak to a supervisor about it. If the communication you're receiving isn't clear and easy to understand, ask for a supervisor.
  1. The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax.  Well, that sounds fair. It's IRS's obligation to make sure you pay only the amount of tax legally due, including interest and penalties. You should also expect the IRS to apply all tax payments properly.
  1. The Right to Challenge the IRS's Position and Be Heard. You can, and should, object to formal IRS actions or proposed actions if you think they are wrongly applied or incorrectly computed.  You'll need to provide justification with additional documentation. If the IRS doesn't agree, you should get a timely response explaining its position.
  1. The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum. You are entitled to a fair and impartial administrative appeal of most IRS decisions, including certain penalties. You also have the right to receive a written response regarding a decision from the Office of Appeals, or to take your case to court.
  1. The Right to Finality. Time is money. The IRS has to inform you of the maximum amount of time you have to challenge its position and the maximum amount of time the IRS has to audit a particular tax year, or collect a tax debt. You also have the right to know when the IRS concludes an audit.
  1. The Right to Privacy. Any IRS inquiry, examination or enforcement action must comply with privacy laws and be as unobtrusive as possible. You should expect these proceedings to respect all due process rights, including search and seizure protections.
  1. The Right to Confidentiality. Your tax information is between you and the IRS. The agency will not disclose information unless authorized by the taxpayer or by law. You should expect the IRS to take appropriate action against employees, return preparers and others who wrongfully use or disclose your return information.
  1. The Right to Retain Representation. You don't have to deal with the IRS by yourself. You can retain an authorized representative of your choice (accountant,  lawyer etc.) to represent you in your dealings with the IRS. If you can't afford representation, you have the option of seeking assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, .

10. The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System. Fairness is the hallmark of our justice system and it also applies to the tax system. This includes considering all facts and circumstances that might affect your underlying liabilities, ability to pay or ability to provide timely information. You have the right to receive assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service if you're experiencing financial difficulty, or if the IRS hasn't resolved your tax issues properly through its normal channels.

After 47 years in the tax industry, I know this--IRS workers want to help you. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights and a good tax pro are the first steps.