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What to Do When the IRS Sends You a Letter

You know that if you receive a phone call, text message, or email from the ‘IRS,’ it’s a scam. When the IRS wants to reach you, they send correspondence via U.S. mail. Reasons why you may receive a letter from the IRS include:

  • Remind you of a balance due
  • Notify you that your refund is larger or smaller than anticipated
  • Ask questions or request more information about your tax return
  • Verify your identity
  • Made changes in your return
  • Notify about delays in processing your return

Unfortunately, scammers know that the IRS uses mail for notices. To be certain that the letter is legitimate, take these steps:

  • Search for the letter, notice, or form number on the IRS home page, irs.gov.
  • If the instructions on the letter you received don’t match the instructions on the IRS Web site, then contact the IRS to ask them if the letter is legitimate.
  • If the letter is fraudulent, report it to phishing@irs.gov and to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

When you determine that the letter or notice is legitimate, here are the steps to take:

  • Don’t ignore the letter, and send copies to your CPA for review. When a CPA handles your taxes, they should be involved in most dealings with the IRS. If the issue is more than administrative, a CPA review will help you determine the appropriate response.
  • Follow instructions.  The notice will tell you if you need to take any action. Be sure to follow the instructions. The letter will also have contact information for your questions, or talk with your tax advisor.
  • Pay attention to the due date.  IRS notices typically deal with a specific issue about your tax return or tax account. Respond by the due date to minimize additional penalty and interest charges, and preserve your appeal rights if you disagree with the issue.

If you agree with the letter, you don’t need to reply unless a payment is due.

If you don’t agree, it’s important that you respond. The instructions on the notice will suggest the best way to contact the IRS. If you call, save a copy of your tax return and the notice. If you respond in writing, be sure to include information and any documents you want them to consider. Also, write your taxpayer identification number (Social Security number, employer identification number or individual taxpayer identification number) on each page of the letter you send. Mail your reply to the address shown on the notice.

After you respond:

  • Allow at least 30 days for a response.
  • If you owe a payment, pay as much as you can, even if it’s not the full amount. You can make the payment online.
  • Keep a copy of the IRS notice with your tax records.

Rely on your Salmon Sims Thomas tax advisor to answer questions about your return or represent you with the IRS.