I’m sitting in a corner whimpering and cowed because I got mail (letters and notices) from Uncle Sam. Letters and notices from the IRS are typically two different types of communication. Letters usually tell me when the IRS will respond to questions from me, such as a request for an account transcript, which lists all account activity under my name for a specific period. Notices are normally more serious, since they often deal with things like audits and deadlines. Today I was lucky enough to be treated to both types, and so I’m moaning with my paws over my eyes.
But Uncle Sam wants to avoid the image of a brute master, so he released 8 tips to keep me from panicking when I receive correspondence from the IRS:
- Many of the issues raised in letters coming from the IRS can be addressed rapidly – probably not as quickly as wolfing down my rice-and-chicken dinner, but still, relatively quickly.
- The IRS sends notices for multiple reasons, such as a request for payment of my taxes, changes to my account, or calls for additional information – for instance, proof that my doggy spa day was work-related. The notices usually cover very specific issues with my tax return.
- Both the letter and the notice will command me about what I’m supposed to do – say, dig up old receipts for proof of my deductions.
- When Uncle Sam sends a notice about a correction to my tax return, I should read the notice carefully, then compare the correction to the information on my tax return – sort of like sniffing around my breakfast bowl to make sure that no one snuck any bad stuff into it during the evening.
- If I agree with the correction, I don’t have to do anything, unless I need to make a payment, in which case I shall dig up my bony assets and send them to the IRS by certified mail, return receipt requested.
- If I disagree with the correction, I must put paw to paper to explain why. I have to make sure I’m responding within the deadline established in the IRS notice. With my letter, I must provide documentation and information to support my viewpoint. I also must enclose the bottom tear-off portion of the IRS notice to me. My letter should be mailed, certified, return receipt requested, to the IRS address shown in the lower left corner of the notice. Then I should wait patiently for up to 30 days before receiving a response from the IRS – this is like having to wait 15 minutes for a ball-tossing-doggy-walking session by The Boss.
- If I am unclear about how I should respond to the IRS letter or notice, I can call the IRS telephone number listed in the upper right corner of the notice. When I make the call, my tax return and the IRS correspondence should be within grasp of my paw. (Although Uncle Sam doesn’t necessarily provide this information, I know from experience that I should allot at least an hour to waiting for assistance. During this time I plan to roll on my back and have The Boss scritch my belly.)
- I should keep copies of anything I send to the IRS for my own records, and when I receive the return receipt in the mail, I should attach it to the relevant documents. Then I should treat myself for a job well done.
Actually, after carefully considering the matter, I’ve decided to turn over any IRS mail, negative or positive, to The Boss and let her handle it for me. She’s a tax attorney. She owes me for years of loyalty and service. I encourage you to do the same, the better to protect your assets and peace of mind.