Facing Your Fear: Letters From the IRS

It’s never pleasant to receive mail from the IRS. No one ever wants to see that return address in their mailbox. If you receive one of the millions of letters the IRS sends taxpayers each year, the best thing to do is open the letter and read it carefully, comparing it to your tax return. It may contain a request more information, or indicate that an employer reported more income than you did, or it may explain that you’ll receive a greater refund than you thought.  The notice will say exactly what the problem is and what steps you should take. 

Time is of the essence in dealing with the IRS.  Your right to challenge an IRS determination is governed by very narrow time limits, which range from 30-90 days depending on issue and type of notice you receive.  The notice will indicate how much time you have to respond, so pay very close attention to these deadlines, otherwise you may forfeit your right to challenge a determination.   

Many controversies can be resolved quickly by calling the IRS Customer Service line at 800-829-1040. It is important to keep in mind that you don’t have to face the notice alone.  If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you may be eligible for free assistance from the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic at South Jersey Legal Services, which serves residents of all seven southern counties of New Jersey.  If you need help with a tax problem, call 800-496-4570 for an intake. 

Most tax problems can be resolved fairly easily if they are addressed quickly.  Even if you can’t pay all the taxes you owe, there are options to keep your account current and prevent further problems.  Don’t be afraid of letters from the IRS or of asking for help dealing with them.


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