Tax Tips — April 28, 2022

Here’s What to Do if You Get IRS Letters After Tax Day

by Susannah Hornback

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Here’s What to Do if You Get IRS Letters After Tax Day

Tax Day may have come and gone, but many taxpayers may still get correspondence from the IRS—which can be intimidating, to say the least.

When you get something from them, how do you know it’s legit? Does the IRS even send letters? Or is it someone posing as them to get your sensitive info?

Let’s look at common mail correspondence and how to deal with it.

Don’t ignore mail from the IRS, even if you don’t think it’s legit

We all know that ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. When it comes to tax problems, ignoring them can make the problem worse.

Opening an envelope from the IRS may feel like a doomsday moment, but sometimes it’s just informational—you don’t even have to do anything.

So what kinds of things does the IRS send notices for?

Here’s why the IRS might have sent you a letter

We pulled this list straight off of IRS.gov. Official notices and letters could be due to the following reasons:

  • You have a balance due.
  • You are due a larger or smaller refund.
  • There is a question about your tax return.
  • Your identity needs verification.
  • The IRS needs additional information.
  • The IRS changed your return.
  • There are delays in processing your return.

Getting a letter from the IRS doesn’t automatically mean you’re getting audited. Each one will have information on the reason for the notice and what to do about it.

That said, maybe you need a little help understanding how to deal with your notice.

Use the notice code and the Taxpayer Advocate Service’s taxpayer map to identify your letter

The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is a wonderful resource to help Americans understand their rights and requirements in the tax space.

If you’re unsure of a letter that claims to be from the IRS, you can use the TAS Taxpayer Roadmap to look up the notice code or letter code (usually in the top right corner). From there, you will be able to see why you received the letter and where your tax return is in the process.

It’s a large roadmap, but it’s also interactive, so you can directly see the process for getting your tax return approved and your refund delivered.

Let’s try it out: Say you receive an IRS letter with “LTR 12C” in the top right corner.

Go to the TAS Taxpayer Roadmap and enter “12C” in the search (LTR is just short for “letter”).

From there, you will be directed to the section of the roadmap where you could receive a Letter 12C, along with an arrow for more information. You can easily navigate to the following overview:

“The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) needs additional information from you to process your income tax return.”

From there, you can use the “See notice details” button for more information and instructions on what to do.

Check for fraud to protect yourself from identity theft

So, how do you know if a letter or notice is actually from the IRS?

First, IRS letters will have a letter number or a notice number (preceded by LTR or CP). If there is no letter or notice number, be wary.

Also, the IRS does not:

  • Demand that people use a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.
  • Ask for debit or credit card numbers over the phone.
  • Threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law enforcement agencies to arrest people for not paying.
  • Demand immediate tax payment without giving a chance for people to appeal or question what they owe.
  • Revoke a license or immigration status.

Threats like the ones mentioned above are common tactics used by scam artists to trick their victims into revealing personal information or sending money. You can read more about these schemes on the IRS’s page about tax scams.

Finally, follow the directions in your letter to help resolve issues with your tax return

Now that you know your mail from the IRS is legit and what it’s asking of you, simply follow the steps to resolve any issues so that your return can be processed.

No one wants to spend all the extra time on their taxes, but if you get correspondence from the IRS, stay on top of it and respond in a timely way. Doing so will reduce the time it takes to finish your taxes for the year and avoid unnecessary penalties and fees.

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