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What to do if you get a notice from the IRS

Posted on August 20, 2020

Every once in awhile the math doesn’t quite add up, or you overpay (it happens!), or a 1099 comes in late, or divorced parents inadvertently claim the same child. In any of these cases and many more, the IRS needs to let you know about the issue. So they mail a notice to you. The point is, it’s not always bad news. Sometimes all that is needed is clarification or a supporting document.

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts from the CPAs at Teipen Selanders Poynter & Ayres about what to do if you receive an IRS letter:

  • Absolutely do not ignore the notice. Setting it aside for a month can cost you in interest and/or penalty fees if you owe. Each notice deals with a specific issue and includes specific instructions on what to do.
Don’t procrastinate. If you are unsure how to proceed, ask your CPA or accountant how to proceed.
  • Don’t panic. Most of the time, all you need to do is read the letter carefully and take appropriate action.
  • Do not reply unless instructed to do so. There is usually no need for a taxpayer to reply to a notice unless specifically instructed to do so. On the other hand, taxpayers who owe should reply with a payment (payment options are available on IRS.gov.)
  • Review the information. If a letter is about a changed or corrected tax return, review the information and compare it with the original return. If you agree with the assessment, make notes about the corrections on their personal copy of the tax return and keep it with your tax papers.
  • If you dispute the notice, mail a letter explaining why you disagree. Include copies of any proof such as receipts, invoices or other pertinent documentation. Mail your letter to the address on included with the notice. Allow at least 30 days for the IRS to respond.
  • Be aware of scams. The first contact from the IRS usually comes via U.S. mail, never by phone, social media or text message. Threats are never made in genuine IRS correspondence. Scammers are increasingly good at fooling their intended victims. If you are unsure of any communication, give Teipen Selanders Poynter & Ayres a call – whether or not you are a client. We can help you cut to the chase.
  • Unsure of what you may or may not owe? Taxpayers who are unsure if they owe money to the IRS can view their tax account information on gov.

Of course the best way to feel confident about anything you get from the IRS about taxes is to work with a certified CPA or tax professional from the start. Call us with your questions. We are always happy to help.