Few things can be as intimidating as that letter from the IRS. In many cases, though, those notices are just meant to clear up some missing information. Although there’s no need to panic, it is important to respond as quickly as possible to avoid accruing costly penalties. How you respond to the letter depends on the type of letter you received. You may be notified that you have a balance due, or you may simply need to answer a couple of questions. Here are a few steps to take after that IRS notice appears in your mailbox.
Make Sure It’s Legitimate
Fraud has become an increasing problem for the IRS. If you’re being asked to remit payment, check out the IRS’s instructions on remitting payment. Your check will be made out to the United States Treasury, and the IRS won’t demand payment immediately without allowing you the option to appeal. If you have any doubts about a notice you’ve received, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to verify its legitimacy.
Comply with the Request
The best thing about an IRS notice is that it usually tells you exactly what you need to do next. If you agree with what they’re requesting, you’ll merely need to comply. This means if you owe money, you’ll remit a check to the address on the notice. Make sure you keep a copy of the notice with your tax records.
Work Out a Payment Plan
The IRS is aware that not everyone can afford to pay an unexpected tax bill. There are a variety of payment options available, including short-term and long term plans that let you pay in a series of installments. You’ll have to qualify for the plan and pay a setup fee, but you can get the process started by applying online.
Dispute the Request
Don’t assume that the information you’re getting from the IRS is correct. Check your own files and, if you find a discrepancy, file an appeal. Information on your right to appeal should be on the notice you receive, but you’ll send your request in writing to the address on your notice.
A written notice from the IRS is nothing to fear. The agency occasionally needs to communicate with taxpayers to clear up questions or resolve underpayments. As long as you follow the instructions on the letter and check your own records to make sure the notice is correct, you should be able to resolve the matter to everyone’s satisfaction.