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IRS notices: common questions on how to respond

Figuratively, to say that something is “legion” means it’s a very large number. Literally, the term refers back to ancient Rome, where a Roman legion contained thousands of soldiers, arranged into several smaller groups known as cohorts.

In the figurative sense, it would be far to say that IRS notices are legion – in the sense that there many types. In this post, we will address some common questions about responding to them.

What are most IRS notices about?

Often a notice will be about the IRS making changes to a tax return you filed. The IRS may be asserting, for example, that you underreported income.

As we noted in our December 29 post on underreported income, this does not necessarily mean the IRS was correct.

And sometimes the IRS is not proposing a change in your taxes. It is merely asking for more information.

How do IRS notices arrive?

The IRS sends notices by U.S. mail. It generally does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, phone call or social media.
But there are a lot of tax scams out there. Be wary of notices that demand payment in a certain way, such as through a prepaid debit card.

Why are reading and responding to a noticed so important?

Reviewing the notice is important and responding in a timely manner are important for a couple of reasons.

Because there are so many notices, you have to review the notice you got even to understand what it’s about. As we noted at the outset of this post, such notices are legion (in the sense of many).

In addition, if disagree with the IRS, you want to keep your right to take action to challenge the position the IRS has taken. You can't do that if you don't respond.

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