Here’s what you need to know if the IRS has contacted you about tax debt.
Every year the IRS contacts people regarding their income tax status. There are few things as daunting as having the IRS contact you. Most people assume it means they’re getting audited or they’ve done something wrong.
In reality, the IRS contacts taxpayers for a variety of reasons, including:
- Having a balance due
- Notifying them that their refund is larger or smaller than expected
- Requesting additional information or asking questions about their tax return
- Verifying their identity
- Alerting them to a change to their tax return
Not all of these reasons are bad. After all, who doesn’t want to learn their tax refund is larger than they expected?
But in most cases, a letter or request from the IRS is likely to induce stress. Before responding to the letter – and you must respond – it’s important to understand a few things.
Do Not Ignore Letters from the IRS
The most important thing is to not ignore the letter. Read the letter and determine if you need to do anything to follow up. Sometimes the IRS is just letting you know something about your return and you won’t need to take further action. But if there is a request or demand for something from you, you’ll need to proceed with caution.
This doesn’t mean you need to panic. Even if you’ve made a mistake with your income taxes, it doesn’t mean you’re in trouble or that the IRS is coming after you. You’ll need to deal with the issue, but most people aren’t facing penalties or punishment.
Make sure you carefully read the information provided to you by the IRS. If they’re alerting you to a change to your return, compare the updated return to your information. As long as you agree with the change or correction there’s no need to take action.
If you’re asked to follow up, you’ll want to do so in a timely manner. The IRS takes deadlines seriously and you’ll face significant penalties if you fail to do so. The notice you get will likely include a date or deadline. Adhering to the deadline minimizes any additional interest or penalties you’ll owe and it preserves your right to appeal if you do not agree with the IRS’s demands.
Keep in mind, even if you disagree with what the IRS has to say about your tax situation doesn’t mean you should ignore the letter. The only way to remedy the situation is to deal with it.
Disputing IRS Demands Regarding Tax Debt
If you disagree with the request, it’s important to reach out to the IRS to alert them to your stance. Most of the time the letter you receive includes a number to call if you have questions. It’s important to document anything that is discussed when you call and to follow up in writing. Make copies of anything you send to the IRS supporting your case and keep anything you receive from the agency. You might need documentation of your interaction later, so do your best to keep it organized.
Keep in mind, the IRS never contacts taxpayers via social media or text message. The first contact almost always comes via mail and then the agency follows up that initial contact via telephone. Never reveal any information to a caller or anyone who contacts you unless you can verify they are from the IRS. If you have questions or concerns, you can view your tax account information on IRS.gov.