Help with IRS Notices: Top 8 Things You Should Do When You Receive An IRS Notice

Top 8 Things You Should Do When You Receive an IRS Notice

Samuel T. Cohen, CPA Tax Planning For Individuals, Tax Planning For Businesses, Business Management, Personal Finance Leave a Comment

What to do

Each year, the IRS sends notices to taxpayers for various reasons. While your first instinct when you see an IRS notice might be to panic, take a minute and relax--many notices are for small, easily resolved issues such as needing additional documentation, or a miscalculation. Here's what you should do should you receive an IRS notice of any kind:

  1. Don't panic! As previously mentioned, many IRS notices are small issues that are uncomplicated to fix. Take a moment and make sure you read the letter thoroughly to understand the reason for the notice. The letter will explain why you received the notice and what action you must take. The IRS is working to ensure that all notices are written in plain language for "clarity, effectiveness, and efficiency."
  2. Call the IRS for clarity. If you are unsure about the purpose of your notice or the course of action you should take, call the number at the upper right corner of your IRS notice. Be sure to have a copy of your tax return handy when you make the call as it will help the IRS answer your inquiry. As a best practice, you should keep a copy of your tax returns for at least three years. If you haven't done that in the past or your return was lost or damaged, follow these instructions on how to get a new copy.
  3. If "correction", review with caution. If your notice is about a correction to your tax return, review it with extra caution. Frequently in cases with corrections, the recipient needs to compare the discrepancies in the IRS notice with the filed tax return.
  4. Respond! The worst thing you can do is to do nothing. The IRS notes that the best course of action is one of the following:
    • If you agree with the correction, you usually don't need to reply unless a payment is due.
    • If you don't agree with the correction the IRS made, it's important that you respond as requested. Respond to the IRS in writing to explain why you disagree. Include any documents and information you wish the IRS to consider, along with the tear-off portion of the notice. Mail the information to the IRS address as shown in the lower left corner of the notice. Allow at least 30 days for a response from the IRS.
  5. Never pay without speaking with a tax professional! Even after talking to the IRS, never pay the amount due on your notice without consulting a tax professional. There are often ways to minimize or even completely eliminate the amount owed.
  6. Watch out for fraudulent notices. Remember that the IRS sends notices and letters by mail only. They never contact taxpayers with information about their tax filings via email or telephone. If you receive a suspicious email or electronic contact posing as the IRS and requesting personal information, follow these steps:
    • Do not reply.
    • Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain viruses or other harmful material.
    • Do not click on any links. The IRS recommends that you visit the Identity Protection page if you clicked on a link in a suspicious email.
    • Forward the email to
    • After you forward the email to the IRS, delete the message.
  7. Keep a copy of your notice. Keep copies of any notices you receive with your other tax records in a safe place.
  8. Visit for more info. For more information about IRS notices and bills, visit Click on the link "Responding to a Notice" at the bottom left of the home page. Also, see "Publication 594," The IRS Collection Process. The publication is available on or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-1040).

Glass Jacobson's team of tax professionals are your support system when it comes to tax filing. We help shoulder the burden of making sure your taxes are filed correctly and efficiently each year. Our team handles IRS notices and inquiries so that you don't have to. Let us help ease the stress of tax planning, preparation, and filing.

About the Author

Samuel T. Cohen, CPA

Principal at Glass Jacobson | Learn More>>

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