Dealing with IRS tax notices
A taxing authority such as the IRS or the Illinois Department of Revenue will issue a written notice under various scenarios, some of which are discussed below. (Note that the initial contact is always by mail; if you receive a phone call purportedly from the IRS or other tax authority, it is fraudulent, and you should hang up without revealing any personal information.)
The notice will set forth the reasons for its issuance and, if applicable, the additional tax it asserts is due, often adding interest and penalties to the assessment. The notice typically also sets forth a due date for response from the taxpayer. They may also give a telephone number, but in our experience it’s preferable to respond to most notices in writing, both because of the written record it produces and to avoid long hold times.
Another frequent occurrence is a mismatch between tax payments on record with the taxing authority and payments reported on the tax return. While this will not change the tax computation, it will affect the refund or payment due. In these cases it’s usually a straightforward analysis as to whether or not the IRS is factually correct. Sometimes they are, sometimes not.
If they are correct, the matter is resolved by paying any amount due. But if the notice is erroneous, the most successful approach to challenging it is to write and submit a clear and succinct response explaining why you are contesting the notice and including supporting documentation backing up our position. That approach frequently succeeds in abating the assessed tax after a single letter. Occasionally the matter is prolonged and results in multiple communications. In the rare case where a satisfactory result isn’t obtained, you can address the available options with your client.
Other notices require a more comprehensive approach. For example, the notice may question the manner in which an item was (or was not) reported, and the response may require discussion of the tax code or regulations or other authority. Again, clarity of response is crucial. If the IRS representative doesn’t understand the position set forth in the response, they are unlikely to change their original assessment.
Still other notices are basically seeking information. For example, the State of Illinois does not receive copies of W-2s from employers, so they may ask for a copy of the W-2 to support the tax withholding claimed on the tax return.
Read the full article from Accounting Today.