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What You Need to Know if You Get a Letter in the Mail from the IRS

IRS Tax Tip 2016-65, April 19, 2016

Each year, the IRS mails millions of notices and letters to taxpayers for a variety of reasons. If you receive correspondence from us:

  1. Don’t panic. You can usually deal with a notice simply by responding to it.

  2. Most IRS notices are about federal tax returns or tax accounts. Each notice has specific instructions, so read your notice carefully because it will tell you what you need to do.

  3. Your notice will likely be about changes to your account, taxes you owe or a payment request. However, your notice may ask you for more information about a specific issue.

  4. If your notice says that the IRS changed or corrected your tax return, review the information and compare it with your original return.

  5. If you agree with the notice, you usually don’t need to reply unless it gives you other instructions or you need to make a payment.

  6. If you don’t agree with the notice, you need to respond. Write a letter that explains why you disagree, and include information and documents you want the IRS to consider. Mail your response with the contact stub at the bottom of the notice to the address on the contact stub. Allow at least 30 days for a response.

  7. For most notices, you won’t need to call or visit a walk-in center. If you have questions, 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.

  8. Always keep copies of any notices you receive with your tax records.

  9. Be alert for tax scams. The IRS sends letters and notices by mail. We don’t contact people by email or social media to ask for personal or financial information. If you owe tax, you have several payment options. The IRS won’t demand that you pay a certain way, such as prepaid debit or credit card.

  10. For more on this topic, visit IRS.gov. Click on the link ‘Responding to a Notice’ at the bottom center of the home page. Also, see Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process. You can get it on IRS.gov/forms at any time.

If you need to make a payment visit IRS.gov/payments or use the IRS2Go app to make payment with Direct Pay for free, or by debit or credit card through an approved payment processor for a fee.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 18-Apr-2016