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IRS correspondence tax audit: Open the letter

The Internal Revenue Service has increased the number of correspondence audits in lieu of in person tax audits. When an envelope with the IRS logo arrives in the mail, do not ignore it.

Often a letter or notice from the IRS will request additional information. The agency might be requesting additional tax and a penalty if it discovered an error or miscalculation. In either case, the request may only allow 30 days to respond to the tax audit.

The first step is to read the form carefully. The IRS recently announced on its website that it was redesigning much of its correspondence. The newer format involved a design change and use of simpler language to convey what a taxpayer needs to do to respond. While this is a desirable goal, it is often a good idea to run any questions you have past a tax attorney before responding.

If you agree with the correction noted in the letter, no response is necessary unless the letter requests an additional tax payment.

When you disagree, you'll need to write back explaining why and provide any documentation to support your argument. Keep a copy of the notice and any response for your records. Make sure to cut off the bottom portion of the IRS notice and send it with your response. It often takes the IRS at least 30 days to respond.

It is not often necessary to call or visit an IRS office to resolve an issue. Remember that the IRS does not call, email or contact taxpayers via social media. Do not fall for recent scams where a caller claims to be from the IRS and requests personal information.

Source: RidgefieldPress.com, "What to do if You Get a Notice from the IRS?" Peggy Riley, August 5, 2014.

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