You come home from a long day at work to find a letter from the IRS tucked in among your junk mail and bills. Tempted to toss it aside? Don’t. Instead, follow these steps to regain your sanity and your peace of mind.
Don’t panic: If you haven’t opened the letter, now is the time to do so. Chances are, it’s an automated follow-up notice regarding a recent transaction you had with them (uploading income data for student loan repayment programs for example).
Assess: Is it a letter requesting information? While the IRS may seem infallible, errors do occur. In that case, you’ll need to provide the necessary information that will correct the error.
These documents may include bank statements, W2 forms from your employer, or any other document confirming or disputing the figures stated in the letter. Each letter requesting information will have a list of documents you will need to provide, so there’s no guesswork.
Don’t ignore it. Don’t leave the unopened letter on your desk or elsewhere. Most IRS letters are regarding a recent tax return or tax repayment account you may have. Some IRS correspondence is time-sensitive, so it’s important to respond quickly.
The good news is that all IRS correspondence provides very clear instructions as to your next steps (perfect if you are new to the workforce and have just started paying taxes).
Review it carefully. If the letter is about a changed or corrected tax return, review the information carefully and compare it with your original return. If you agree with the corrections or changes, make notes on your original return and keep it for your records.
Don’t agree with the updated information or have additional questions? You may contact the IRS at the number provided on the notice or reach out to your tax preparer. If you have a Power of Attorney on file with them, they can discuss IRS matters on your behalf.
Mail your letter to the address as shown on the notice (in some cases, you may want to send it certified mail with a return receipt). Allow 30 days for the IRS to respond.
If the IRS is requesting payment, respond with that payment. You’ll get stuck with extra penalties and fees otherwise. You or your tax pro do have repayment options.
Don’t get caught up in a scam: the IRS will never contact you through social media, messenger apps, emails, or phone calls. As a large federal agency, the IRS will initiate communication with you by letter.
No phone calls, please. Great news: in most cases, you won’t need to call the IRS unless the notice instructs you to do so.
In that case, call only the number located on the upper right-hand portion of the notice. Have your tax return and the IRS letter handy when calling. Doing so will make for a much shorter and pain-free phone call.
No one likes to see an envelope from the IRS in the mail. At the same time, if you do receive a letter from the IRS, it’s important to not panic and to act quickly. By keeping a cool head and responding quickly to any requests for information, you’ll avoid additional fees and penalties. You’ll also get to hold onto your hard-earned sanity and peace of mind!
If you’re rattled by an IRS notice and would like a tax pro to step in, we can help. We’re just a message, email or phone call away.