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November 2012 Tip of the Month

Oops, it’s not a holiday card – it’s an IRS Notice 

Each year, the Internal Revenue Service sends millions of letters and notices to taxpayers for a variety of reasons. While clients at Abo and Company are not the only ones who get these “love letters”, we get our fair share of nervous phone calls from concerned recipients.  We strongly suggest you forward the notice to your accountant to properly resolve the matter for you (hopefully, that be us at Abo and Company).  Still, if you do In fact, here are eight things even the IRS agrees you should know about such notices – just in case one shows up in your mailbox

  1. Don’t panic. Many of these letters can be dealt with simply and painlessly.
  2. There are a number of reasons why the IRS might send you a notice. Notices may request payment of taxes, notify you of changes to your account, or request additional information. The notice you receive normally covers a very specific issue about your account or tax return.
  3. Each letter and notice offers specific instructions on what you are asked to do to satisfy the inquiry.
  4. If you receive a correction notice, you should review the correspondence and compare it with the information on your return.
  5. If you agree with the correction to your account, then usually no reply is necessary unless a payment is due or the notice directs otherwise.
  6. If you and we do not agree with the correction the IRS made, it is important to respond as requested. You should send a written explanation of why you disagree and include any documents and information you want the IRS to consider, along with the bottom tear-off portion of the notice. Mail the information to the IRS address shown in the upper left-hand corner of the notice. Allow at least 30 days for a response. We suggest retaining proof of mailing.
  7. Most correspondence can be handled without calling or visiting an IRS office. However, if you have questions, you call the telephone number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice. Have a copy of your tax return and the correspondence available when you call to help us respond to your inquiry.
  8. It’s important that you keep copies of any correspondence with your records.

Interestingly enough, the IRS receives thousands of reports each year from taxpayers who receive suspicious emails, phone calls, faxes or notices claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service. Many of these scams fraudulently use the Internal Revenue Service name or logo as a lure to make the communication more authentic and enticing. The goal of these scams – known as phishing – is to trick you into revealing personal and financial information. The scammers can then use that information – like your Social Security number, bank account or credit card numbers – to commit identity theft or steal your money.

Here are five things we’ve been advised even the IRS wants you to know about phishing scams:

1. The IRS doesn’t ask for detailed personal and financial information like PIN numbers, passwords or similar secret access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts.

2. The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through e-mail and won’t send a message about your tax account. If you receive an e-mail from someone claiming to be the IRS or directing you to an IRS site:

  • Do not reply to the message.

  • Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer.

  • Do not click on any links. If you clicked on links in a suspicious e-mail or phishing website and entered confidential information, visit the IRS website and enter the search term 'identity theft' for more information and resources to help.

3. The address of the official IRS website is http://www.irs.gov. Do not be confused or misled by sites claiming to be the IRS but ending in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov. If you discover a website that claims to be the IRS but you suspect it is bogus, do not provide any personal information on the suspicious site and report it to the IRS.

4. If you receive a phone call, fax or letter in the mail from an individual claiming to be from the IRS but you suspect they are not an IRS employee, contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to determine if the IRS has a legitimate need to contact you. Report any bogus correspondence.

5. You can help shut down these schemes and prevent others from being victimized. Details on how to report specific types of scams and what to do if you’ve been victimized are available at http://www.irs.gov, keyword “phishing.”