It’s a moment many taxpayers dread. A letter arrives from the IRS — and it is not a refund check. Don’t panic; many of these letters can be dealt with simply and painlessly. If you receive a letter or notice from the IRS, it will explain the reason for the correspondence and provide instructions. Many of these letters and notices can be dealt with simply, without having to call or visit an IRS office.
Each year, the IRS sends millions of letters and notices to taxpayers to request payment of taxes, notify them of a change to their account or request additional information. The notice you receive normally covers a very specific issue about your account or tax return. Each letter and notice offers specific instructions on what you are asked to do to satisfy the inquiry.
What to do if you receive an IRS Notice:
- Don’t panic. You often only need to respond to take care of a notice.
- 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.
- Each notice has specific instructions about what you need to do.
- You may get a notice that states the IRS has made a change or correction to your tax return. If you do, review the information and compare it with your original return.
- 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.
- If you do not agree with the notice, it’s important for you to respond. You should write a letter to explain why you disagree. 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.
- You shouldn’t have to call or visit an IRS office for most 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.
- Keep copies of any notices you receive with your other tax records.
- The IRS sends letters and notices by mail. We do not contact people by email or social media to ask for personal or financial information.
- For more on this topic visit IRS.gov. Click on the link ‘Responding to a Notice’ at the bottom left of the home page. Also, see Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process. You can get it on IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
If you receive a correction notice, you should review the correspondence and compare it with the information on your return.
- Agree? If you agree with the correction to your account, usually no reply is necessary unless a payment is due.
- Disagree? If you do not agree with the correction the IRS made, it is important that you respond as requested. Write to explain why you disagree. Include any documents and information you wish the IRS to consider, along with the bottom tear-off portion of the notice. Mail the information to the IRS address shown in the upper left-hand corner of the notice. Allow at least 30 days for a response.
Most correspondence can be handled without calling or visiting an IRS office. However, if you have questions, call the telephone number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice. Have a copy of your tax return and the correspondence available when you call to help us respond to your inquiry. Once you’ve cleared up the problem, take steps to avoid receiving letters in the future. Many can be avoided by simply filing an accurate tax return. Careless mistakes will almost certainly trigger an IRS notice. Take special care with your return, check the math, review the rules, and sign on the bottom line.
Be sure to keep copies of any IRS correspondence with your records.
For more information about IRS notices and bills, see Publication 594, What You Should Know about the IRS Collection Process. Information about penalties and interest charges is available in Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax. Both publications are available below or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).