What taxpayers can do when a letter arrives this summer
Some taxpayers will receive a letter from the IRS this summer. Taxpayers should not panic and remember that they have fundamental rights when interacting with the agency. Forward copies of any letters to your tax preparer and they can often help you navigate your options and requirements.
These rights are in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Among other things, these rights dictate that letters from the IRS must include:
- Details about what the taxpayer owes, such as tax, interest and penalties.
- An explanation about why the taxpayer owes the taxes.
- Specific reasons about why the IRS may have denied a refund claim.
Taxpayers who receive a letter from the IRS can do some simple things when it arrives. Taxpayers should remember to:
- Read the entire letter carefully. Most letters deal with a specific issue and provide specific instructions on what to do.
- Compare it with the tax return. If a letter indicates a changed or corrected tax return, taxpayer should review the information and compare it with their original return.
- Respond. Taxpayers should:
- Respond to a letter with which they do not agree.
- Mail a letter explaining why they disagree.
- Mail their response to the address listed at the bottom of the letter.
- Include information and documents for the IRS to consider.
- Allow at least 30 days for a response.
- Reply timely if necessary. If a taxpayer agrees with the information, there’s no need to contact the IRS. However, when a specific response date is in the letter, there are two main reasons a taxpayer should respond by that date:
- To minimize additional interest and penalty charges.
- To preserve appeal rights if the taxpayer doesn’t agree.
- Pay. Taxpayers should pay as much as they can, even if they can’t pay the full amount they owe. They can pay online or apply for an Online Payment Agreement or Offer in Compromise.
- Contact the IRS if necessary. For most letters, there’s no need to call the IRS or make an appointment at a taxpayer assistance center. If a call seems necessary, the taxpayer can call the phone number in the upper right-hand corner of the letter. They should have a copy of the tax return and letter on hand when calling.
- Keep the letter. A taxpayer should keep copies of any IRS letters or notices received with their tax records.