Every year the IRS sends notices to millions of taxpayers regarding unpaid balances, changes to their return and other tax-related issues.  If you’re one of the lucky recipients, don’t panic.  Most notices can be easily handled without visiting your local IRS office.  Here’s what to do if you receive a notice in the mail.

Read the notice

Each notice will explain why you’re being contacted and provide specific instructions on what to do next.  For example, if the IRS thinks a fraudulent return has been filed using your name and/or social security number, they may send you a 5071C letter asking you to verify your identity using their Identity Verification phone number.  Your notice will also provide contact information in case you have any questions.

Respond by the deadline

While some notices are strictly informational, others may require you to respond by a specific date.  If the IRS has corrected your return, review the changes and compare it to your original return.  Normally, no further action is required if you agree with the changes.  However, if you have a balance due, you must pay it right away to minimize interest and penalties.

If you disagree with their findings, you must respond by phone or mail.  When you call, be sure to have a copy of your tax return handy.  If you prefer to respond by mail, you must write a letter explaining your position and provide supporting documents.  Once you mail your appeal to the address listed on the notice, you can expect a response in about 30 days.  Hold on to any notices you receive and store them with your tax records just in case you need them in the future.

Be aware of scams

If you receive a call from the IRS demanding immediate payment for an unexpected tax bill, hang up.  Scammers have been calling unsuspecting victims and threatening to have them arrested or deported if they fail to make a payment by debit card or wire transfer.  If the IRS needs to reach you, they will initiate contact by sending you a letter in the U.S. mail and give you a chance to appeal.  They will not request personal or financial information by phone, email or social media.  Nor do they have a preferred payment method.