Basic of What to Do or Not Do If You Get a Letter from the IRS
If you receive a letter marked from the IRS or the U.S. Treasury, then you are one of millions of individuals who will received the mailing of letters from the U.S. Government and there are many and varied reasons why you may be one of these millions of individuals selected to receive a letter. The suggestions that I am listing below may seem to lack common sense, but I have seen just such happenings that occur when you experience unexpected IRS mailings mixed with the normal stresses of the day.
First, with the IRS envelope in hand, take a deep breath, find a few minutes where you will be able to focus and have a note pad and pen nearby for making notes.
This letter is a personal communication to the addressee. If this letter is not addressed to you, then don’t open it! Also, do not leave it laying around for others to see and if you decided to make a copy of the letter for your attorney, don’t forget to take the original off of the copy machine!
As you read the letter, use your note pad and pen to put your initial impression on paper. Do not write your thoughts on the IRS letter itself. I know this sounds basic, but during times of stress, a average person will probably underline sentences, write personal thoughts in the margins, and even doodle in the corners. Your attorney will need a clean copy of the letter; so make a copy for your own edification and keep the original for your attorney.
For decades, the IRS has endeavored to make these letters clean and easy to understand, but these endeavors are still significantly lacking in their purpose for the average person to understand or comprehend. Therefore, contact your attorney right away. Why right away, because most of these letters have a short period of time for you or your attorney to respond without forfeiting your rights and/or incurring large penalties or placing your account in audit or collections…and these are the two places you definitely do not want to find yourself.
In my over 35 years of practice before the IRS, I have only gotten one telephone call from the IRS about a client and even then I requested a letter from the IRS before I would continue any further dialog. Just because they claim to be an IRS Agent and give you a Badge Number, who knows if this person really is with the IRS…I don’t and I am an attorney.
Increasingly, I get calls from clients who claim they got a threatening call for the IRS to send money, usually Western Union, or they will arrest you. The IRS never asks for money on a telephone call and they do not have the power to arrest anyone without due process which incudes the case being transferred to a Special Treasury Agent or Criminal Investigation Agent…which takes months if not even years to occur resulting from investigations and/or depositions. Even my Mother got such a call as well as myself, so anyone may get such a call. My suggestion is to just hang up.
I hope this information helps you and if you have any questions, please drop me a line.
Michael B. Nelson, Esq.