Despite the modern world of technology, the Internal Revenue
Service still very much follows an old-fashioned method of notifying people of
further instruction or meetings requires via paper notices sent by regular
mail. Dubbed “IRS notices” these communications can cover the gamut from
approval of an Employer Identification Number to a request for documentation to
an actual audit. As a result, the most important step a person can take when
receiving an IRS notice is to read it carefully before doing anything else.
The Notice Basics
An IRS notice will often follow a specific format, and each
component provides and important piece of information. These components
subject matter or topic the notice is about.
date the notice was sent.
date a response is due back to the IRS.
- The IRS
agent or contact person to call for questions and that person’s phone
specific requirements for next steps such as a payment amount due,
documents requested or required, or where a meeting will take place and
closing information specific to the notice matter.
Every one of these elements provides important information
that should not be ignored. In fact, in 9 out of 10 notices, the IRS usually
specifies how to resolve an issue or request in a few simple steps.
How to React
The first step when receiving an IRS notice is to avoid
panicking. A notice doesn’t automatically mean a person is being audited.
Second, the recipient should read the notice thoroughly and make sure the
instructions are clearly understood. If there are any questions, the contact
number on the notice will provide a trained IRS contact who can explain what is
needed or why the notice is sent. It’s a smart idea to have the relevant
tax return on hand when calling the IRS.
If the notice is simply for information, i.e. the IRS found
a minor issue on a tax return and corrected it but nothing else is needed, then
that’s it. There’s nothing more a recipient has to do. However, if the notice
says a payment is due, and the dollar figure is fairly small, it’s better to
just send in the payment with the notice and be done. This is a typical IRS
approach called a desk audit when it finds a simple, low dollar error. Trying
to appeal the issue can quickly cost far more, and interest and penalties can
increase in the meantime.
However, if a response is needed, then the notice will state
how an appeal needs to be made. It’s important to file a response by the
deadline or the response is essentially waived. The IRS in most notices usually
allows 30 days to response if there is a dispute of the notice.
The notice or a copy of it in any instance should be kept
with a relevant tax return for good record-keeping. A later issue may come up
and having the notice and related response on hand can avoid stumbling by
eSmart Tax provides complimentary CPA Audit Assistance to all who choose eSmart Tax to file. If you receive a notice from
the IRS, a Liberty Tax Service CPA can help you understand, prepare, and guide
you through the audit process .