What taxpayers should do if they get a letter or notice from the IRS?
Updated: May 16
Every year, the IRS mails many letters and tax notices to taxpayers for many different reasons. The question you may ask: What to do with this mail and how do I know the letter is from the IRS?
Here are some do's and don'ts for taxpayers, including Americans living abroad, who receive an IRS letter or tax notice:
don't Ignore it: Most IRS letters and notices are about federal tax returns or tax accounts. Each notice deals with a specific issue and includes specific instructions on what to do. Follow it carefully and you should be fine.
Don’t panic. The IRS and its authorized private collection agencies do send letters by mail. Most of the time, all the taxpayer needs to do is read the letter carefully and take the appropriate action.
Don’t 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. IRS.gov has information about payment options. Certain notices will show a balance due that you may NOT owe. Therefore, why hurry and pay if you do not have to. if you are not sure, contact your CPA for assistance.
Do take timely action. A notice may reference changes to a taxpayer’s account, taxes owed, a payment request, or a specific issue on a tax return. Acting timely could minimize additional interest and penalty charges if you only owe.
Do review the information. If a letter is about a changed or corrected tax return, the taxpayer should review the information and compare it with the original return. If the taxpayer agrees, they should make notes about the corrections on their personal copy of the tax return and keep it for their records.
Do respond to a disputed notice. If a taxpayer doesn’t agree with the IRS, they should mail a letter explaining why they dispute the notice. They should mail it to the address on the contact stub included with the notice (Be sure it is an IRS official mailing address). The taxpayer should include information and documents for the IRS to review when considering the dispute. People should allow at least 30 to 60 days for the IRS to respond. Expect longer response time from the IRS during the COVID-19 period, the calendar years 2020 and 2021.
Do remember there is usually no need to call the IRS. If a taxpayer must contact the IRS by phone, they should use the number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice (Be sure it is an IRS official phone number!). The taxpayer should have a copy of their tax return and letter when calling the agency.
Do avoid scams. The IRS will never contact a taxpayer using social media or text messages. The first contact from the IRS usually comes in the mail. Taxpayers who are unsure if they owe money to the IRS can view their tax account information on IRS.gov.
Be sure the letter is from the IRS not from a scammer.
Do not call the number if it doesn't look right (not an IRS number)
Do not mail anything if the address doesn't look right (not an IRS address)
Do contact your accountant if you are not sure.
Do not disclose your personal information over the phone, via text or social media to any unintended recipients and potential scammers.
Tax Topic 651 - Notices – What to Do
Tax Topic 653 - IRS Notices and Bills, Penalties, and Interest Charges
Tax Topic 654 - Understanding Your CP75 or CP75A Notice Request for Supporting Documentation.
How to get help?
If you need assistance with reviewing and responding to a letter received from the Internal Revenue Service, please contact Whin Global Accountants via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out this contact form and a CPA will get back to you as soon as possible.