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5 Secrets How To Deal with IRS Notices

by Brett Backues on February 3, 2015
There are numerous reasons why the Internal Revenue Service may send a notice to you by mail. IRS notices always address a very specific issue concerning your tax return or your account. You may get a notice telling you that a payment is due, or the purpose of the letter may be to inform you of changes to your account. It may also be to inform you that you have been flagged for an audit. In many cases, however, such a notice is nothing more than a request for additional information. 
Remaining Calm
Most people are not pleased to receive IRS notices or similar correspondence. The possibility of a tax audit causes many individuals to become anxious and worried. The very idea of being faced with fines, auditing, penalties or even a court trial can lead to a substantial amount of stress for most taxpayers. However, it is important to understand that a notice from the Internal Revenue Service does not necessarily mean disaster, and even if the letter contains bad news, a solution can be found. 
The most important first step you can make is to remain calm and refuse to panic, regardless of the information contained in the notice. Becoming emotionally upset over the correspondence will only make the problem seem worse. You should also be aware of the fact that there are always specific instructions listed somewhere in the correspondence that will tell you how to proceed. This is another reason that panicking is a mistake, as notices that may at first seem intimidating often turn out to be something simple. Therefore, remaining calm is the best way to ensure that you do not overlook important information contained in the letter or overreact to something that is relatively easy to address and resolve.
Review the Notice and Claim
After you have taken a deep breath, review the claim and the notice to see what you must do to satisfy the inquiry. This is because such letters always contain detailed instructions about how you must proceed in order to remedy the situation. Pay close attention to this section of the letter, even if you have to read it a few times to digest the information.
Seeking Advice
If you do not understand the exact issue, you must ask a competent source for clarification. In certain cases, companies who offer accounting services may be able to help you understand and deal with a tax problem. Although there is a fee for such services, they are typically invaluable to consumers who are facing IRS problems that may seem a bit overwhelming. Always review any company with which you are considering doing business so that you can make the best choice for your specific situation. You can also contact the IRS by telephone to ask someone to assist you if you find the letter confusing. If you do need to place such a phone call, make sure you have a copy of your tax return on hand, as this will help expedite your inquiry.
Respond in a Timely Manner
IRS notices should never be ignored. It is important to respond in a timely manner, whether or not you agree with the information contained in the letter. For example, if you receive a notice telling you that your tax return has been corrected by an IRS agent, you should review it carefully and compare it to your copy of the return. If you agree, there is no need to reply in most cases. However, if the notice asks for a response or a payment is due, these issues should be addressed as soon as possible.
If you disagree with the correction, it is essential to respond with your specific reasons for disputing the correction. Send your correspondence in writing, and include any documents that you want the IRS to review. You should allow approximately four weeks for an answer. 
Keep Records
Always make copies of everything you send to the IRS so that you have proof that you responded to the notice in a timely manner. In addition, you will have something to refer to if you must contact an IRS agent to discuss the matter.
Finally, it is essential to understand that the Internal Revenue Service will never contact you by e-mail. Taxpayers are always sent IRS notices through the United States Postal Service, sometimes in the form of a certified letter and sometimes through regular mail. However, any e-mails that appear to have come from the IRS should be ignored, as they are usually spam or in the worst case scenario, an attempt to defraud you. For additional information about IRS notices, bills, or penalties, log on to and click the “Responding to a Notice” on the website. This tab is located on the bottom left of the home page. You may visit the site to order a copy of Publication 594:The IRS Collection Process. The latter can also be obtained by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676.)