You’ve Got Mail …From the IRS: A Simple Guide for Taxpayers

Receiving mail from the IRS can be a nerve-wracking experience for many people. Thoughts race through your mind: “Did I make a mistake on my tax return? Do I owe more money than I thought?” However, before you hit the panic button, it’s essential to understand what steps you should take if you find an envelope from the Internal Revenue Service in your mailbox.

1. Take a Deep Breath and Read Carefully

The first rule of thumb is not to panic. The IRS sends notices and letters for various reasons, and oftentimes, it’s simply to communicate information or ask for clarification. Take a moment to sit down and carefully read the letter. Most of these communications pertain to your federal tax returns or tax accounts. Each notice is specific to an issue and will outline any necessary actions you need to take.

2. Understand the Information Provided

Once you’ve read the letter, take the time to digest the information provided. If it mentions changes or corrections to your tax return, compare it with your original filing. If everything checks out, make notes on your personal copy of the tax return, and keep it for your records. Remember, you usually only need to act if you disagree with the information provided, if the IRS requests additional information, or if there’s a balance due.

3. Respond Promptly if Necessary

If the letter requires a response or action from you, don’t procrastinate. Ignoring IRS correspondence can lead to further penalties and interest charges. Follow the instructions provided in the letter, which may include making a payment or providing additional documentation. Remember, there are options available if you’re struggling to pay a tax bill, so don’t hesitate to explore them.

4. Only Reply When Instructed

Unless explicitly instructed to do so, there’s typically no need to reply to IRS notices. Resist the urge to call the IRS immediately. If you do need to contact them, use the number provided in the upper right-hand corner of the notice and have a copy of your tax return and the letter on hand.

5. Dispute if Necessary

If you disagree with the IRS’s assessment, follow the instructions provided in the notice to dispute it. Include any relevant information and documents for the IRS to review when considering your dispute. It’s essential to address any discrepancies promptly to avoid potential complications down the line.

6. Keep Records

Always keep a copy of any notices or letters you receive from the IRS for your records. This includes adjustment notices when the IRS takes action on your account. Retain these records for at least three years from the date you filed your tax return.

7. Watch Out for Scams

Unfortunately, scammers often take advantage of individuals’ fear of the IRS. Remember, the IRS will never contact you via social media or text message. The initial contact from the IRS typically comes in the form of a mailed letter. If you’re unsure whether you owe money to the IRS, you can check your tax account information on


Receiving mail from the IRS doesn’t have to be a cause for panic. By following these simple steps and staying informed, you can effectively address any issues or concerns raised by IRS correspondence. Taking proactive steps can prevent minor issues from snowballing into larger problems. So, the next time you find an envelope from the IRS in your mailbox, take a deep breath, stay calm, and tackle the situation head-on – and if you want someone to help you if unexpected correspondence does come up, consider reaching out to a Certified Tax Planner today – they know exactly what to do when the IRS shows up in your mailbox!