Do’s and don’ts for taxpayers who get a letter or notice from the IRS

 

The IRS mails letters or notices to taxpayers for a variety of reasons including if:

  • They have a balance due.
  • They are due a larger or smaller refund.
  • The agency has a question about their tax return.
  • They need to verify identity.
  • The agency needs additional information.
  • The agency changed their tax return. 

Here are some do’s and don’ts for taxpayers who receive one:

  • Don’t ignore it. Most IRS letters and notices are about federal tax returns or tax accounts. The notice or letter will explain the reason for the contact and gives instructions on what to do.
  • Don’t panic. The IRS and its authorized private collection agencies generally contact taxpayers by mail. Most of the time, all the taxpayer needs to do is read the letter carefully and take the appropriate action. 
  • Do read the notice. If the IRS changed the tax return, the taxpayer should compare the information provided in the notice or letter with the information in their original return. In general, there is no need to contact the IRS if the taxpayer agrees with the notice.
  • Do respond timely. If the notice or letter requires a response by a specific date, taxpayers should reply in a timely manner to:
    • minimize additional interest and penalty charges.
    • preserve their appeal rights if they don’t agree.
  • Do pay amount due. Taxpayers should pay as much as they can, even if they can’t pay the full amount. People can pay online or apply for an Online Payment Agreement or Offer in Compromise. The agency offers several payment options.
  • Do keep a copy of the notice or letter. It’s important to keep a copy of all notices or letters with other tax records. Taxpayers may need these documents later.
  • Do remember there is usually no need to call the IRS. If a taxpayer must contact the IRS by phone, they should use the number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice. The taxpayer should have a copy of their tax return and letter when calling. Typically, taxpayers only need to contact the agency if they don’t agree with the information, if the IRS request additional information, or if the taxpayer has a balance due. Taxpayers can also write to the agency at the address on the notice or letter. If taxpayers write, they should allow at least 30 days for a response.
  • Do avoid scams. The IRS will never contact a taxpayer using social media or text message. The first contact from the IRS usually comes in the mail. Taxpayers who are unsure if they owe money to the IRS can view their tax account information on IRS.gov. 

More Information:
Understanding Your IRS Notice or Letter

Tax Topic 651, Notices – What to Do
Tax Topic 653, IRS Notices and Bills, Penalties, and Interest Charges

Tax Topic 654, Understanding Your CP75 or CP75A Notice Request for Supporting Documentation