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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Dos and Don'ts of IRS Correspondence


It's a moment many taxpayers dread. A letter arrives from the IRS or State taxing authority and it's not a refund check. But don't panic; many of these letters can be dealt with simply and painlessly.

Each year, the IRS sends millions of letters and notices to taxpayers to request payment of taxes or penalties and interest, notify them of changes to their accounts, 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.

However, the letters also have to advise you of your rights and other information required by law. Thus, these letters can become overly lengthy and sometimes difficult to understand.

Here are dos and don'ts to follow if you receive correspondence from the IRS or state tax authority:

·         Do immediately get a copy of the correspondence to this office so it can be reviewed and timely responded to.

·         Don't respond if the correspondence requests personal information. There has been substantial identity theft related to scam artists pretending to be the IRS or another authority, especially correspondence by e-mail. Let this office take a look before responding.

·         Don't procrastinate or throw the letter in a drawer, hoping the issue will go away. Most of these letters are computer-generated and, after a certain period of time, another letter will automatically be generated. And, as you might expect, each succeeding letter will become more aggressive and less easily dealt with.

·         Don't automatically pay an amount the correspondence is requesting unless you are positive you owe it. Quite often, you will not owe what is requested, and it will be difficult to get your payment back.

·         Do know that we probably can resolve the issue, however, it may not be a quick fix as phone call waits are lengthy and correspondence can take anywhere from 30 to 60 days for a response.