IRS scams—they seem to be everywhere these days. Rest assured, any phone caller claiming to be the IRS is in all likelihood a scam (the IRS would never call you demanding an immediate payment). However, the same cannot be said for IRS letters or notices you receive in the mail.
For most of our clients, individuals as well as businesses, the typical response to such a letter is fear. We get it. Right away, you start racking your brain asking yourself, “What have I done to receive an IRA notice?”
Relax. The IRS sends out a ton of letters and notices every year (many of them automated) for a number of reasons, the majority of which don’t carry bad news. To help ease your mind as a taxpayer, we at MGA have put together the following list of tips to help you get past the initial shock and uncertainty of these dreaded notices.
5 tips for taxpayers who receive an IRS notice
- Don’t panic.
First and foremost, don’t panic! The IRS and its authorized private collection agencies do send out notices and letters by mail, and these are unlikely to be a scam. Most of these letters, however, can be dealt with in a simple and painless manner. Typically, all you need to do is read the letter thoroughly and take the appropriate action. It’s truly that simple.
- Promptly read the notice.
While getting mail from the IRS can be intimidating, you should never ignore a letter or notice you receive. The majority of IRS notices are about tax accounts or federal tax returns. They will reference a specific issue and include detailed instructions on how to handle it.
Secondly, don’t throw an IRS notice into a stack of papers to be dealt with later. Rather, we encourage you to open it immediately in order to take appropriate actions. In many cases, the IRS is just seeking additional information or clarification on an aspect of your tax return, which automatically makes it a time-sensitive issue.
- Review the information.
If the notice you receive concerns a corrected or changed tax return, you should always carefully review the letter for any incorrect information, such as a misspelled name, an incorrect social security number, or other errors. Also, compare any corrections or noted changes on your return with your original submission. You could have made a simple mistake in filing your return that the IRS is correcting for you, or the IRS corrections could be a sign that someone has tried to submit a fraudulent tax return under your name.
- Promptly reply when necessary.
Typically there is no need to reply to an IRS notice unless you are specifically instructed to do so. If the letter is saying that you owe an amount, you should respond with a payment as soon as possible. Taking action in a timely manner could potentially minimize additional interest and penalty charges which you may end up having to pay.
Conversely, when you ARE specifically instructed to reply, you will only have 30 days to do so. This response needs to be in writing, and because of this, we strongly encourage you to keep copies of your correspondence in case you need to reference them in the future.
- If needed, seek professional help.
If you are dealing with a serious issue with the IRS or if you are being audited, we strongly encourage you to reach out for professional help. That’s where we come in. Depending on your particular situation, you may need the guidance of a CPA or perhaps even a lawyer. Keep in mind, when choosing your professional, it is important to select someone who is familiar with the latest changes in the tax law, something that we at MGA take very seriously.
Remember: legitimate communications from the IRS will be sent via traditional mail
At MGA, we want to stress that the IRS will not use the telephone, email, social media, or text message to contact you. They will not call you and threaten to lock you up if you don’t make an immediate payment. Tax scammers will frequently send out notices via these platforms, pretending to represent the IRS. Don’t fall for it.
On the other hand, we urge you and all our clients to not ignore any mailings from the IRS assuming that it could be a scam. If you’re unsure, contact your team at MGA immediately.
Wondering if an IRS notice is for real? Call us.
At MGA, when our clients receive mail correspondence from the IRS, they know to send them straight our way. We can quickly read through the notice and help them move forward with the appropriate actions. We’re ready to do the same for you.
Here at MGA, we provide a wide variety of services that are designed to take the complexity out of all aspects of accounting, including the IRS, tax returns, and auditing. We are here as your trusted advisors, no matter how simple or complicated your situation.
There’s no need for you to worry needlessly. While you take care of your business, let MGA take care of you and the IRS.