It can be very scary — you go to retrieve your mail, and among the usual bills and junk, there is a plain white envelope with the return address: Treasury Department – Internal Revenue Service.

The first thing the IRS advises anyone to do if they receive such a letter is to – not panic! The IRS sends out millions of letters every year. Just because you received one, does not mean it is necessarily “bad news,” about an audit, or additional owed taxes. In fact, according to the agency, the notice is most likely to inform you of changes to a taxpayers’ account, or it could be a notice asking for more information about a specific issue or item on a tax return.

Whatever the correspondence is about, the key is to stay calm, and read it very carefully. Here are some other tips the IRS recently put out about what to do if an IRS letter arrives in your mail.

  1. If a notice indicates a changed or corrected tax return, review the information and compare it with your original return.
  2. Taxpayers must respond to any notice they do not agree with. Mail a letter explaining why there is a disagreement with the IRS. The address to mail the letter is on the contact stub at the bottom of the notice. Include information and documents for the IRS to consider and allow at least 30 days for a response.
  3. There is no need to call the IRS or make an appointment at a taxpayer assistance center for most notices. If a call seems necessary, use the phone number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice. Be sure to have a copy of the tax return and notice when calling.
  4. Always keep copies of any notices received with your tax records.
  5. Be alert for tax scams. The IRS only sends letters and notices by mail. The IRS does not contact people by email or social media to ask for personal or financial information. The IRS will never demand payment a certain way, such as prepaid debit or credit card.

How MBAF Can Help

First of all, if you receive any such letter from the IRS, and we were your tax preparers, contact us immediately. Even if you are not an existing MBAF client we can help you to verify if the letter is authentic. If it is authentic, and it is telling you that there was a mistake in your returns, or that you owe additional taxes to the IRS, you do not have to go it alone.

Contact our offices. We would be happy to review the notice and your returns. We can help you minimize your debt, and implement a strategy to meet your obligations in a way that is the least burdensome to you.

Understanding how to deal with an IRS letter can be complex. If you would like to benefit from our expertise in these areas, or if you have further questions on this Advisory, do not hesitate to contact our Tax and Accounting Specialists, or call us at 1-800-239-1474.