The IRS will send a notice or a letter for any number of reasons. It may be about a specific issue on your federal tax return or account, or may tell you about changes to your account, ask you for more information, or request a payment.
You can handle most of this correspondence without calling or visiting an IRS office if you follow the instructions in the document.
Before you proceed, check where the notice came from
The first thing to do is to check the return address to be sure it’s from the Internal Revenue Service and not another agency.
If it's from the IRS, the notice will have instructions on how to respond. If you want more details about your tax account, you can order a transcript.
If it’s from another agency, such as a state tax department, you’ll need to call that office for an explanation.
If the letter is from the Department of the Treasury Bureau of the Fiscal Service, these notices are often sent when the IRS takes (offsets) some or part of your tax refund to cover another, non-IRS debt. The Bureau of the Fiscal Service only facilitates the transfers - it won’t have information about your IRS account or where the money is being sent.
Understanding your Notice
IRS notices and letters are numbered and provide contact information for questions. Both are usually shown in the upper right corner. (If you can't find the number, or have lost your notice, there are general numbers you can call.)
Each notice normally tells you:
What the IRS is changing on your return or account, or needs more information about
Why the IRS is making a change or needs that information
Where to send your reply and by when (if a reply is needed)
There are a few main categories for notices:
Claiming certain tax credits and other interactions with the IRS may lead the IRS to send you a notice. Most of the time, they are just for your records and you don’t need to reply.
Notices about changes to your tax return or account
The IRS may have already made a change, or be looking at your return to see if there was a mistake. The notice will have instructions on if or how you need to reply.
What if I want to talk to someone about the notice?
Each notice should include contact information. Some phone numbers on letters or notices are general IRS toll-free numbers, but if a specific employee is working your case, it will show a specific phone number to reach that employee or the department manager.
If you've lost your notice
If you’ve lost your notice, call one of the following toll-free numbers for help:
Do you feel that you need help from a tax professional but can’t afford one? You may be eligible for representation from an attorney, CPA, or enrolled agent associated with aLow Income Taxpayer Clinic.