Navigate IRS Tax Notices Like a Pro: 9 Essential Tips

Working on an IRS tax notice.

Each year the IRS sends out millions of letters to taxpayers to either provide notice of a tax credit or of taxes due. Whatever the reason for receiving a tax notice, read on for nine tips to keep your cool when responding to the IRS about a tax notice.

Key Takeaways For Handling IRS Tax Notices

  • Don’t panic! Most IRS notices are routine and require simple responses. Understand why you received the letter and what it’s about.
  • You have to make sure the letter is truly from the IRS. They never initiate contact via email or phone call.
  • Focus on the specific issue raised in the letter. If corrections are made, review them and respond only if necessary. Dispute errors with written explanations and supporting documents.
  • Most issues can be resolved without calling or visiting the IRS. Use the provided phone number if needed, and have relevant documents ready.
  • Respond within the deadline and keep copies of all correspondence for future reference.

The 9 Tips To Handle IRS Tax Notices

We understand that receiving an IRS notice can be upsetting, but remember, it is a routine matter that you come across very often. However, follow these simple tips to handle IRS correspondence appropriately and maintain proper records.

Tip 1: Address the tax notice and remain calm

It’s a common automatic response to panic or experience a feeling of dread when we receive a piece of mail sent to us by the IRS. Don’t let this dread cause you to ignore the letter and deal with the consequences later. Instead of procrastinating the tax notice, by remaining aware that receiving notices is normal and requires only a simple response, you can remain calm as you review what is expected of you.

Tip 2: Ensure IRS authenticity

Before taking any action, practice caution and ensure you aren’t dealing with a tax scam. Double check that the letter is authentic and is indeed from the IRS. Be aware that the IRS sends notices and letters by mail. They never contact taxpayers about their tax account or tax return by email or phone call. If you receive a letter that looks suspicious, you can call and report it directly to the IRS. This important step can save you from falling victim to phishing scams and protect your sensitive financial information.

Tip 3: Know what to expect

While an IRS notice might raise your eyebrows, it doesn’t necessarily signal bad news or good news. There are a variety of reasons why the IRS sends correspondence, and it will typically cover a very specific issue about your account or tax return. Tax notices will likely be about notification on the changes of the taxpayer’s account and taxes owed or simply asking you to provide an additional piece of information for clarification. When you know what to anticipate, you approach it confidently.

Tip 4: Focus on the request

Deal only with the specific issue indicated in the letter. Whether it’s a tax return correction, a request for additional information, or something else entirely, address only that point. If you receive a notice advising you that the IRS has corrected your tax return, you should review the information and compare it with the original return. This focused approach ensures you respond accurately, avoiding unnecessary confusion or complications.

Tip 5: Know when you don’t need to respond to a tax notice

If you find yourself nodding along to the corrections made to your account, there’s usually no need to take further action. Just double-check for any payment requests or specific instructions mentioned in the notice. And don’t forget to jot down the corrected information for your own future reference. When you respond only to necessary things, you keep the process simple and save valuable time.

Tip 6: Dispute corrections

If you do not agree with the correction, it is important that you respond as requested. A written explanation indicating why you disagree is necessary. Send your response through mail to the address found at the bottom of the IRS notice. Include any information and documents you want the IRS to consider and allow at least 30 days for a response.

Tip 7: Understand how to respond

You should be able to resolve most notices that you receive without calling or visiting an IRS office. But if it seems a call is necessary, use the phone number indicated on the IRS notice. Be sure to have a copy of your tax return and the notice with you when you call.

Tip 8: Maintain records

Filing away IRS notices is a savvy move. Therefore, hang onto copies of all correspondence alongside your other income tax records. You never know when these apparently insignificant letters might come in handy later. A well-organized record-keeping system will help you through any tax-related concerns, so don’t underestimate these basic documents!

Tip 9: Respond promptly

Don’t delay or procrastinate in reading or acting on the notification. Most notices have a clear and specific set of instructions. Read the letter again if necessary to get clear on why you are being contacted, what exactly are the next steps, and the deadline for your response. Deal with it a quickly as possible so you can put it out of your mind and get back to the more enjoyable aspects of your life!

Final Thoughts

If you still crave more clarification, the IRS website contains all the important information you need to know. You can find similar steps outlined in one of their articles here.

Dealing with the IRS can sometimes be unnerving, but it doesn’t have to be. Even if you are confronted with an intimidating tax issue, professionals such as tax lawyers or accountants are channels of support that can take on the heavy lifting for you.

If you need help with an IRS issue or tax notice, Cleer can help! If you have further questions or need assistance, feel free to contact us.

Author Bio
David McKeegan
David McKeegan, the founder of Cleer.Tax is both an MBA and Enrolled Agent. As an entrepreneur and small business owner himself, he really understands the pain points that company owners and founders have in regards to tax compliance and having clean financial statements. What really differentiates David is his ability to distill complicated tax matters into layman’s terms, making the advice actionable and accessible to all.
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