BOO!!! Don’t Be Afraid to Open That IRS Letter

That day you’ve feared for so long has finally arrived. You come home from work, slowly open the creaking mailbox door and find you’ve received a scary letter from the IRS! Your heart races, sweat pouring down your forehead, as you contemplate whether to open the envelope or run for your life. Questions and uncertainty fill your mind – Did I do something wrong? Am I being audited? Do I owe money?

Each year, the IRS sends millions of notices and letters to taxpayers for a variety of reasons. If fact, there are at least 76 different form letters you can receive from the IRS on a number of topics and few of them are cause for alarm.

Here are ten things to know in case one shows up in your mailbox.

  1. Don’t panic! You often only need to respond to take care of a notice.
  2. There are many reasons why the IRS may send a letter or notice. It typically is about a specific issue on your federal tax return or tax account. A notice may tell you about changes to your account or ask you for more information. It could also tell you that you must make a payment.
  3. Each notice has specific instructions about what you need to do.
  4. You may get a notice that states the IRS has made a change or correction to your tax return. If you receive one of these, review the information and compare it with your original return.
  5. If you agree with the notice, you usually don’t need to reply unless it gives you other instructions or you need to make a payment.
  6. If you do not agree with the notice, it’s important for you to respond. If you understand the issues involved, you should write a letter to explain why you disagree.  If not, get help!  If you do respond yourself, include any information and documents you want the IRS to consider. Mail your reply with the bottom tear-off portion of the notice. Send it to the address shown in the upper left-hand corner of the notice. Allow at least 30 days for a response.
  7. You shouldn’t have to call or visit an IRS office for almost any notices. If you do have questions, call the phone number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice. Have a copy of your tax return and the notice with you when you call. This will help the IRS answer your questions.
  8. Keep copies of any notices you receive with your other tax records.
  9. Be alert for tax scams. The IRS sends letters and notices by mail. They do not contact people by email, phone or social media to ask for personal or financial information. Do not respond to requests for personal or financial information you may receive via email, phone or social media.
  10. Don't give out information to anyone who calls you demanding immediate payment for your tax bill. These callers pretend to work for the IRS and often use fake IRS identification numbers to make you think they are legitimate, when, in reality, they're scammers.

If you have questions about a letter you received from the IRS, one of our friendly tax professionals is here to help! Contact us today for a free consultation or visit ‘Responding to a Notice’ on the IRS.gov website for more information.