Ten Things to Know About IRS Notices

The IRS sends out millions of notices each year. Find out what steps you should take.

Have you received an IRS notice or letter? Here are 10 things the IRS says you should know:

  1. First, don't panic. Also, don’t ignore the notice; it won't go away. Read it right away.
  2. The IRS sends out millions of such notices every year. They usually are about a specific issue on a tax return for a prior year—for example, you made a math error or forgot to report some income. The notice may ask you for more information or tell you that you must make a payment to the IRS. On the other hand, the notice may contain the good news that you are owed a refund.
  3. The notice will have specific instructions on what you should do. Read those carefully.
  4. The notice may provide that the IRS has made a change or correction to your tax return. Be sure to compare what the IRS did with your original return to see if it makes sense.
  5. If you agree with the notice, you usually don’t need to send a reply to the IRS, unless the notice instructs you to do so or you need to make a payment. Follow the instructions in the notice on how to send in your payment.
  6. If you do not agree with the notice, it’s important for you to respond in writing to the IRS. Write a letter clearly explaining why you disagree with what the IRS said in the notice. Mail the letter with the bottom tear-off portion of the notice. It will take the IRS at least 30 days (and likely more) to get back to you.
  7. If you have questions about the notice, call the phone number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice. Be sure to have a copy of your tax return and the notice with you when you call—you’ll likely need the information on them.
  8. Keep all IRS notices you receive with your tax records.
  9. The IRS sends all notices by postal mail. It never contacts taxpayers by phone or email to ask for personal or financial information or demand payment. If you receive such a phone call or email, it’s a scam.
  10. For more information about IRS notices, visit the Understanding Your IRS Notice page on the IRS website. Also, see IRS Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process.

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