How Does The IRS Contact You?
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the United States government agency responsible for collecting taxes and enforcing tax laws. For individuals and businesses, receiving communication from the IRS can be a source of anxiety and uncertainty. Understanding how the IRS contacts you is essential to distinguish legitimate communication from potential scams or fraudulent attempts. In this guide, we will explore the various methods the IRS uses to get in touch with taxpayers and the precautions you should take to ensure the authenticity of their messages.
How Does The IRS Contact You?
The IRS mainly uses three methods: letters, phone calls, and in-person visits.
- IRS Letters: The IRS often begins contact by sending you a letter through the regular mail. This letter can be about various things, like an overdue tax payment, a change to your tax return, or to ask for more information. It will explain why they’re reaching out and what you should do next. The letter will have an identifying number and contact info in case you want to reach them.
- Phone Calls: Sometimes, after sending a letter, the IRS might call you. They could call about things like unpaid taxes or to set up an appointment if you’re being audited. But remember, you would have received a letter about the audit first. Private debt collectors may also call, but only after they’ve sent a notice. Always be cautious about anyone asking for payment to be made to someone other than the U.S. Treasury.
- IRS Visits: It might seem scary, but in some cases, an IRS agent could visit your home or business. This usually happens if you have overdue taxes, delinquent returns, or if your business hasn’t paid its payroll taxes. An IRS agent may also visit during an audit, but only after notifying you with a letter or scheduling an appointment. The key is, they’ll always ask you to pay any taxes you owe to the U.S. Treasury. So, if anyone claims to be from the IRS and wants you to pay differently, be cautious – they could be a scammer. And remember, even unannounced visits are usually preceded by a letter.
What Are My Rights When Dealing With The IRS?
When dealing with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), it’s important to be aware of your rights as a taxpayer. Understanding your rights can help you navigate the tax process and protect yourself. Here are some of your key rights when dealing with the IRS:
- Right to Representation: You have the right to be represented by a qualified tax professional when communicating with the IRS. Your representative can help you during audits, appeals, and other interactions.
- Right to Privacy and Confidentiality: The IRS is required to keep your tax information confidential. They cannot disclose your tax details to unauthorized individuals or organizations.
- Right to Challenge IRS Decisions: You have the right to appeal or challenge decisions made by the IRS. This includes audit findings, penalties, and denied claims.
- Right to Information: You are entitled to clear and easily understandable information about the tax laws, IRS procedures, and your rights as a taxpayer. You can request written explanations of any decisions made by the IRS.
- Right to a Fair and Impartial Hearing: If you disagree with an IRS decision, you have the right to a fair and impartial administrative appeal. You can also request a formal hearing in front of the IRS Appeals Office.
- Right to Finality: You have the right to know the maximum amount of time the IRS has to audit or collect a tax debt. Once that time has passed, the IRS cannot take further action to collect the debt.
- Right to Challenge Collection Actions: You can challenge IRS collection actions, such as levies and property seizures. The IRS must provide notice and an opportunity to appeal these actions.
- Right to Quality Service: You have the right to receive prompt, courteous, and professional assistance from the IRS. If you believe you have not been treated fairly, you can file a complaint.
- Right to Payment Alternatives: If you cannot pay your tax bill in full, you have the right to explore payment alternatives, such as installment agreements or an offer in compromise.
- Right to Legal Recourse: If you believe the IRS has violated your rights, you can file a lawsuit in federal court. You can also seek compensation for any damages resulting from such violations.
It’s essential to understand and assert your rights when dealing with the IRS. If you encounter difficulties or have questions about your rights, consider consulting a tax professional for guidance. Additionally, the IRS publishes the “Taxpayer Bill of Rights,” which outlines your rights in more detail and can be a valuable resource for taxpayers.
If you receive a letter, phone call or visit from an IRS agent it is important to always ask for credentials.
Types of credentials to check include the following:
- A pocket commission detailing the authority of the agent and their responsibilities (every IRS representative must have this)
- A personal identity verification credential (or PIV), a government-wide standard used to identify all federal employees and contractors
Ways The IRS Won’t Contact You
The IRS has specific policies and guidelines regarding how they will not contact you. It’s important to be aware of these to protect yourself from scams and fraudulent communication. Here are ways the IRS will not contact you:
- Emails: The IRS will not initiate contact with you via email to discuss tax matters or collect payments. Be cautious of phishing emails that pretend to be from the IRS and request personal information or payment.
- Social Media: The IRS does not use social media platforms to initiate or discuss tax matters. They won’t send you messages through platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
- Text Messages: The IRS does not send unsolicited text messages regarding your taxes or to request personal information or payments. Be cautious of text messages claiming to be from the IRS.
- Instant Messaging Services: The IRS does not use services like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger for official tax communication.
- Phone Calls Without Prior Notification: The IRS typically sends written notices through regular mail before making phone contact. They will not make initial threats or demands over the phone without first sending a notice.
- Threats or Aggressive Behavior: IRS agents do not use aggressive language, threaten arrest, or engage in harassing behavior. Scammers may use intimidation, but IRS employees are expected to be professional and courteous.
- Payment Methods Other Than the U.S. Treasury: The IRS will not ask for payment through prepaid debit cards, gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency. Legitimate payments to the IRS should be made directly to the U.S. Treasury.
- Demanding Immediate Payment: While the IRS may request payment for outstanding taxes, they provide options and time for compliance. They will not demand immediate payment over the phone or through aggressive tactics.
- Unannounced In-Person Visits: IRS agents will not make unannounced visits to your home or business without prior communication. You should receive written notice before an in-person visit.
- Inconsistent Contact Information: Be cautious of communication that lacks official IRS contact details, including the absence of a valid phone number, address, or identifying numbers.
What To Do When The Real IRS Contacts You
Enlisting the help of a tax relief firm when being contacted by the IRS can be vital for individuals facing complex tax issues or challenges. The IRS can be a formidable entity, and navigating its procedures, regulations, and negotiations can be overwhelming. Tax relief firms, staffed with experienced professionals, including tax attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents, are well-equipped to provide expertise and guidance to taxpayers. They can help you understand your rights, represent you during audits, negotiate settlements, and create strategies to resolve tax debts or disputes. Moreover, they can ease the burden of dealing with the IRS, ensuring that you make well-informed decisions and, in many cases, potentially save you money by minimizing tax liabilities and penalties. In situations involving significant tax debts, complicated tax returns, or concerns about tax compliance, seeking the assistance of a tax relief firm can be a prudent and valuable investment in securing your financial future.
Enlist The Help Of A Professional
At CuraDebt Tax, we have a team of tax professionals who are able to find the best IRS resolution available to you. Contact us to better understand your tax problems and to choose the best IRS resolution option. CuraDebt has been helping individuals and small businesses for over 22 years nationwide. As of May 2023 CuraDebt received a score of 5 out of 5 on CustomerLobby for a total of 1179 customer views. CuraDebt is an Accredited Member of the American Fair Credit Council. Contact us for a free consultation. 1-877-999-0486. Take advantage of exploring another option for free. Not only do we handle tax relief, we also offer debt relief.
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