Love Notes from the IRS

This year, tax season was extended to May 17, 2021; an extra month to file those Forms 1040 or to request an extension to file.  You may have timely filed the Form 1040 or Form 4868 for an extension, but you receive a notice from the IRS about your return not being filed timely or that your extension request cannot be granted because it was not timely filed.  Or, perhaps you received a notice that you owe penalties for late filing and/or payment.

You know you filed on time, so what do you do? 

First of all, DO NOT ignore the notice you receive.  You should promptly respond to each and every notice, even if you feel you have received the same in error.  In the notices, there is an address for you to respond to via mail and usually a phone number to call regarding the notice.  Those are your two options.  However, I warn you, if you call the IRS, be prepared to either wait on hold for a while or get an announcement that their call volume is great and to call back later.

My suggestion is to communicate via written means.  This gives you a paper trail.  How should you proceed?  Well, hopefully you have some confirmation of the filing of your return, either through software you used to prepare the return acknowledging the filing and acceptance of the return, or if you filed on paper, you mailed the return via Certified Mail.  The green and white certified mail receipt is your proof of filing.  Further, if it was mailed by certified mail, you are able to go onto the USPS website and track your mailing.  You will be able to get verification that the packet was received by the USPS and the delivery information.  This is the only way to verify the mailing of a return.  If you use a commercial courier service, the IRS does not necessarily recognize their tracking as proof of filing.

OK, so what should you send in response to the notice?  Include a complete copy of the notice with a letter explaining how you filed your return and include any confirmation of filing documentation – certified mailing slip or printout from your software.  If you owed taxes and paid via check or credit card well before the due date, provide proof of payment which will show that your taxes were timely paid. 

Hopefully, you have this documentation to prove that you were not delinquent and the IRS erred in sending the notice.  Yes, it is frustrating, but there is no other way.  You can keep on top of your account with the IRS by going to their website and getting a transcript of your account at www.irs.gov/individual/get-transcript.  (If your taxes were prepared by a paid preparer, they are not able to get the transcript information for you.  However, if they filed your return electronically, they can provide you with the electronic filing information.) 

Don’t feel bad if you don’t get such a love note from the IRS – remember, no news is good news!!!!

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About the Author

Kay Sowa is a paralegal in the Trusts and Estates Group at Capehart & Scatchard, P.A. She is an IRS Enrolled Agent, an Accredited Estate Planner®, and a Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor. She oversees the trust and estate administration practice for the firm. She is an accomplished author and lecturer who has frequently spoken on behalf of a number of organizations including the National Business Institute and the Institute of Paralegal Education.

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