Below are some suggestions on how to best handle a letter or notice from the IRS:
- Do not panic. Simply responding will take care of most IRS letters and notices.
- Most IRS notices are about federal tax returns or tax accounts. Each notice deals with a specific issue and provides specific instructions on what to do. Careful reading is essential.
- A notice may likely be about changes to a taxpayers’ account, taxes owed or a payment request. Sometimes a notice may ask for more information about a specific issue or item on a tax return.
- If a notice indicates a changed or corrected tax return, review the information and compare it with your original return.
- There is usually no need to reply to a notice unless specifically instructed to do so, or to make a payment.
- Taxpayers must respond to a notice they do not agree with. Mail a letter explaining why there is a disagreement with the IRS. The address to mail the letter is on the contact stub at the bottom of the notice. Include information and documents for the IRS to consider and allow at least 30 days for a response.
- There is no need to call the IRS or make an appointment at a taxpayer assistance center for most notices. If a call seems necessary, use the phone number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice. Be sure to have a copy of the tax return and notice when calling.
- Always keep copies of any notices received with tax records.
- Be alert for tax scams. The IRS sends letters and notices by mail. IRS does not contact people by email or social media to ask for personal or financial information. The IRS will not demand payment a certain way, such as prepaid debit or credit card. Taxpayers have several payment options for taxes owed.
- Here are helpful tips to avoid some common tax-filing errors:
File electronically. Filing electronically, vastly reduces tax return errors, as the tax software does the calculations, flags common errors and prompts taxpayers for missing information.
Mail a paper return to the right address. Paper filers should check their tax form instructions for the appropriate address where to file to avoid processing delays.
Take a close look at the tax tables. When figuring tax using the tax tables, taxpayers should be sure to use the correct column for the filing status claimed.
Fill in all requested information clearly. When entering information on the tax return, including Social Security numbers, take the time to be sure it is accurate and easy to read. Also, check only one filing status and the appropriate exemption boxes.
Review all figures. While software catches and prevents many errors on e-file returns, math errors remain common on paper returns.
Get the right routing and account numbers. Requesting direct deposit of a federal tax refund into one, two or even three accounts is convenient and allows the taxpayer access to their money faster. Make sure the financial institution routing and account numbers entered on the return are accurate. Incorrect numbers can cause a refund to be delayed or deposited into the wrong account.
Sign and date the return. If filing a joint return, both spouses must sign and date the return. When filing an individual tax return electronically, taxpayers must electronically sign the tax return using a personal identification number (PIN): either the Self-Select PIN or the Practitioner PIN method.
Attach all required forms. Paper filers need to attach W-2s and other forms to the front of their returns that reflect tax withholding. If requesting a payment agreement with the IRS, also attach Form 9465 to the front of the return. Attach all other necessary schedules and forms to the upper right-hand corner of the tax form in the order shown in the instructions.
Keep a copy of the return. Once ready to be filed, taxpayers should make a copy of their signed return and all schedules for their records.
Request a filing extension. For taxpayers who cannot meet deadline, requesting a filing extension is easy and will prevent late-filing penalties. Either use Free File or Form 4868. But keep in mind that while an extension grants additional time to file, tax payments are still due on April 18.