Rights, Remedies, and Justice: The Paradox of Taxpayer Rights
Volume 91, No. 4, Summer 2019
By Richard K. Greenstein [PDF]

This Essay examines the 2018 federal district court ruling in Facebook, Inc. v. Internal Revenue Service to make three arguments regarding the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR), codified as Section 7803(a)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The first is that the TBOR is enforceable, despite the lack of explicit statutory remedies, via an implied private right of action. The second is that this implied right of action requires a pragmatic, case-by-case, facts-and-circumstances fashioning of remedies. The third is in the nature of a paradox: although the enumerated TBOR rights are grounded in demands of justice, the pragmatic fashioning of remedies required for enforcement precludes any guarantee that justice will be fully afforded to a taxpayer whose TBOR rights have been violated.

Richard K. Greenstein is Professor of Law at Temple University Beasley School of Law.