Larry Hess CPA
I got a letter or notice from the IRS. What should I do?
The IRS will mail you a letter or notice for a variety of reasons such as:
You have a balance due.
You are due a larger or smaller refund than you claimed.
The agency has a question about your tax return.
They need to verify identity.
They need additional information.
They changed your tax return.
Don't ignore it. Most IRS letters and notices are about federal tax returns or tax accounts. Each notice deals with a specific issue and includes specific instructions on what to do.
Don't panic. The IRS and its authorized private collection agencies do send letters by mail. Most of the time, all you need to do is read the letter carefully and take the appropriate action.
Do read the notice. If the IRS changed your tax return, you should compare the information provided in the notice or letter with the information in your original return. In general, there is no need to contact the IRS if you agree with the notice.
Don't reply unless the letter tells you to. There is usually no need for you to reply to a notice unless specifically instructed to do so. On the other hand, if you who owe, you should reply with a payment. IRS.gov has information about payment options.
Do respond timely. If the notice or letter requires a response by a specific date, you should reply in a timely manner to minimize additional interest and penalty charges and preserve your appeal rights if you don’t agree. Important: Your reply must be received by the deadline. The date you mail it will not stop the matter from escalating.
Do keep a copy of the notice or letter. It’s important to keep a copy of all notices or letters with other tax records. You may need these documents later. Tip: If you have a scanner, you can keep a digital copy and throw away the paper.
Do review the information. If a letter is about a changed or corrected tax return, you should review the information and compare it with the original return. If you agree, you should make notes about the corrections on your personal copy of the tax return and keep it for your records.
Do respond to a disputed notice. If you don't agree with the IRS, you should mail a letter explaining why they dispute the notice. You should mail it to the address on the contact stub included with the notice. Be sure to include information and documents that prove your point for the IRS to review when considering the dispute. You should allow at least 30 days for the IRS to respond.
Do remember there is usually no need to call the IRS. If you must contact the IRS by phone, you should use the number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice. You should have a copy of your tax return and the letter when calling. Typically, taxpayers only need to contact the agency if they don’t agree with the information, if the IRS requests additional information, or if the taxpayer has a balance due. You can also write to the agency at the address on the notice or letter. If you write, you should allow at least 30 days for a response.
Do avoid scams. The IRS will never contact a taxpayer using social media or text message. The first contact from the IRS usually comes in the mail. If you are unsure if you owe money to the IRS, you can view your tax account information on IRS.gov.