Seeing a communication from the IRS is likely right up there with looking in your rear-view mirror and seeing red and blue flashing lights. Just like we take caution during a traffic stop to pull over in a safe area, we need to take caution before we move forward and respond to the communication.
Step 1: Is it legit?
The IRS will send mailings if it has questions about your tax returns. If you receive something that looks official through the United States Postal Service, it likely is. There are a few red flags to watch for within a traditional mailing. If, for example, the sender states that they accept payment through money orders, debit cards, or gift cards it is likely a scam. The IRS does not use these methods to settle tax debt.
The IRS will not initiate an audit through a phone call, text message, email, or note through a social media platform. If you receive contact through any of these means, it is most likely sent from a nefarious source. Do not reply. Do not move forward with the contact. You could consider reporting the contact to the authorities.
Step 2: What if I am still not sure if the communication is legitimate or not?
You generally have two options. You can call the Tax Court to verify the communication, or you can reach out to legal counsel to review it and provide representation on your behalf.
Step 3: What do I do next?
The IRS is not infallible. They make mistakes. The problem is that a mistake by the IRS can cause big issues for the taxpayer. Depending on the mistake they could argue that you owe large amounts in penalties and fees or that you intentionally avoided tax obligations and are guilty of criminal activity — which could lead to prison time.
Do not take notification of an audit lightly. If you believe the IRS is making serious allegations take the time to build a defense and protect your interests. The attorneys at Goldburd McCone are experienced in every step of the process, from the initial inquiry to full litigation, and will use this experience to help fight for your interests.