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  • Writer's pictureTPSA

Did You Get a Letter from the IRS? Don’t Panic.

Now that most tax refunds are deposited directly into taxpayers' bank accounts, the dream of opening your mailbox and finding an IRS refund check is all but a thing of the past. However, since the IRS now does most of its auditing through correspondence, an IRS letter can likely increase your heart rate and, in some cases, ruin your day.

CP-Series Notice – When the IRS thinks it detects a potential issue with your tax return, it will contact you via U.S. mail; this is done with a CP-series notice. Please note that the IRS's first contact about tax delinquency or discrepancy will never be a phone call or email. Such calls and emails are standard tools of scammers; if you get one, hang up the phone or delete the email. If you are concerned about the validity of a given message, please call this office.

Most commonly, CP notices describe the proposed tax due, as well as any interest or penalties. The notice will also explain the examination process and tell how you can respond.

These automated notices are sent out year-round, and they are pretty standard. As the IRS tries to close the tax revenue gap, it has become more aggressive in its collection efforts. In addition, as many taxpayers now use low-quality tax mills or do-it-yourself software, the number of notices sent because of preparer error has increased. Missed checkboxes, misunderstandings of available credits, and overlooked income all add up to more mistakes.

The IRS's first step in this automated process involves matching what you reported on your tax return to the data that third parties (e.g., employers, banks, and brokers) reported. When this information does not agree, the automated collection effort begins.

Don't Panic – These notices often include errors. However, you need to respond before the deadline specified on the notice (usually 30 days) or face significant repercussions. The notice may even be related to suspected ID theft. For instance, someone may have gained access to your tax ID (or that of your spouse or one of your dependents) and tried to file a return using the stolen ID. The first step is to determine which type of notice you have received.

A CP2000 notice is very different from the other CP notices (which deal with identity theft, audits, and the earned income credit). The CP2000 notice includes a proposed—almost always unfavorable—change to your tax return. It allows you to dispute the proposed change. Procrastinating or ignoring this notice will only cause the IRS to crank up its collection efforts. Which, in turn, will make it more difficult for you to dispute the proposed adjustment.

Sometimes, the IRS will be correct. You may have overlooked a capital gain or income from a second job. It is also possible that the IRS has caught someone else using your SSN to work or otherwise steal your identity. However, the IRS is sometimes incorrect, simply because its software isn't sophisticated enough to pick up all the information that you report on the schedules attached to your return.

These notices of the proposed change will also include penalties and interest. Even if you do owe the tax, this office may be able to get the penalties and interest abated for due cause.

When you receive an IRS notice, your first step should be to contact this office immediately and provide us with a copy of the notice. We can review the information to determine whether it is correct, then consult with you to determine how best to respond.


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