Accessibility.Blog

IRS Getting Sued for Not Providing Accessible Alternatives to Blind Taxpayers

August 7, 2019 9:59:00 AM EDT

A blind taxpayer, Karen Rose, alleges the IRS provided only printed letters she couldn't read. As a result, she wasn't aware she owed nearly $25,000 in taxes and $1,500 in interest and penalties.

Ms. Rose, two other blind individuals, and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) are suing the IRS on the grounds that the system of providing print-only communications is in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, according to the NFB press release.

As stated in Section 504, "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States...shall, solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity conducted by any Executive agency..."

Ms. Rose appealed the penalties, but her appeal was denied and she has not heard back on her request to receive notices in Braille or an accessible format, according to the press statement.

Mark Riccobono, President of the NFB, said, “Over forty-five years ago, Congress told federal and state governments that they must make their programs accessible to blind people, including providing information in alternative formats like Braille and audio.”

“Today’s technology makes accessible communication easier than ever, but the IRS still isn’t meeting its legal and moral obligations to blind taxpayers, and this sometimes results in penalties and other hardships. We are determined to force this powerful agency to treat blind taxpayers equally as required by law,” he added.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division.

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