AL Republicans look to create taxpayer Bill of Rights - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

AL Republicans look to create taxpayer Bill of Rights

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

It's the big question making its way around the Alabama legislature: Does Alabama do enough to protect you from the State Department of Revenue?

The debate comes as a result of the "federal" scandal involving the Internal Revenue Service, but in Alabama there's never been any similar problems.

That didn't stop Republicans Tuesday, who proposed a new taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Top Republicans say they want to protect against IRS-like scandals in Alabama, and they want to make sure taxpayers have their fair shake, even though there's no proof that anything even remotely similar has ever happened in Alabama.

If the Alabama Department of Revenue has an issue with taxes you filed, then you have a right to an appeal in Alabama. There are no complaints about the system on record. The judge has always been appointed by the head of the Revenue Department.

"We do have a system in place right now that works very well for taxpayers," says Alabama Revenue Commissioner, Julie Magee.

Despite there never being a documented problem with the current system, the GOP insists on changing it. They want a panel of associations and state agencies to recommend finalists for the governor to choose from.

They argue that it's about transparency.

"The appearance of favoritism, if that is the case, - may discourage individual taxpayers from even attempting to dispute tax assessments, explained Senator Bryan Taylor (R-Dist. 30) on the Senate floor. "So absolutely an answer to your question, I think this will be a tremendous help, and a tremendous benefit to the small independent taxpayer."

Magee says the tax appeals process has never been broken, and now isn't the time to fix it.

"It's not a real elaborate, complicated system now," she says. "I fear that this taxpayer Bill of Rights two bill creates a very complicated, elaborate manner that I'm afraid it may not serve taxpayers' best interests in the long run."

After divisions among Republicans and a filibuster from Democrats, the bill was put on hold.

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