Received a Tax Notice

So, you received a tax notice? Let’s talk about that.

It’s important to note that the IRS will not contact you by email or social media. If you receive that kind of contact from someone claiming to be an IRS representative, be wary of a scam.

Of course, your first fear when receiving a letter from the IRS is probably that you’re being audited. And mail is, in fact, how the IRS would notify you if you were being audited.

However, a letter from the IRS isn’t always a warning that you’re being audited. It also could be a request for more information.

You might get an IRS letter or notice for several reasons other than an audit, including:

  • You owe money.
  • Your refund is going to be larger or smaller than you thought it would be.
  • The agency has a question about the tax return you filed.
  • It needs additional information about your tax return.
  • It needs to verify your identity.
  • It made corrections or changes to your tax return.
  • It wants to let you know the processing of your return will be delayed.

How do I know if this letter is legit?

Scammers realize the threat of IRS action can be a powerful motivator.

Knowing the IRS won’t initiate an action over email or social media can help you spot a scam that uses one of those approaches. However, when you get a letter (or, very occasionally, a call), it may be more difficult to recognize fake versus real.

The IRS recommends you be aware of tactics that it will never use but that are favorites of scammers, such as:

  • Angry demands for immediate payment.
  • Threats to have you arrested for non-payment.
  • Demands that you pay without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount it claims you owe.
  • Requiring you to use a specific payment method, like a prepaid debit card, without giving you other payment options. The IRS provides multiple ways to pay your tax bill.
  • Asking you to phone in a credit or debit card number for payment.

If you’re still unsure whether the letter you received is legitimate, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. You can also learn more about distinguishing fraudulent contacts from legitimate ones at the IRS website.