Christopher Rizek Speaks to Law360 on Facebook and Taxpayer Bill of Rights


Although a California federal court said Facebook could not rely on the Taxpayer Bill of Rights to access the Internal Revenue Service Office of Appeals, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson has told Law360 that does not mean the Taxpayer Bill of Rights is toothless because it is likely only the first of many developments that will clarify the reach of the law. 

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Christopher Rizek, a tax attorney at Caplin & Drysdale who helped work on the Taxpayer Bill of Rights 2 in 1996 when he was an attorney-adviser and associate tax legislative counsel with the U.S. Treasury Department, said he was not surprised by the court’s decision in the Facebook case because it was quite clear from the drafting of the statute that Congress did not intend to create new remedies.

“My view is that the enactment of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights provisions in 7803 in the form that is just a statement of principles doesn’t in and of itself [] create new remedies,” he said. “I think it tells me [] that it’s an uphill battle to interpret the 7803 provision as creating a new right or a new remedy for that right.”

Rizek said the court found there is no an inherent right to IRS appeals, which aligns with the longtime position of the IRS and the Justice Department. However, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights comes into view and is enforceable when it has to do with the guiding principles for IRS employees, he said.

“When you run up against an IRS employee who is in the taxpayer’s view [] abusing or infringing on those rights, you have something to call them on,” Rizek said, although that still doesn’t necessarily mean you automatically have a new remedy.

“But it does mean you have a new argument in [in]voking that remedy, and to that extent I think it is useful,” he said.

For the full article, please visit Law360's website (subscription required).

Excerpt taken from the article “Facebook's Loss No Blow To Bill Of Rights, IRS Advocate Says” by Amy Lee Rosen for Law360.


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