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Contact from the IRS

With telephone and email scams on the rise, knowing how and when the IRS will contact you is key to avoiding becoming a victim


When the IRS initiates contact with a taxpayer in almost every case the first contact is by letter sent through the USPS. These letters are sent if there is a question about a return you have filed, request for a return you have not filed, or if after reviewing documentation from other sources, the IRS determines that you may owe them additional taxes. There are often multiple attempts to contact any taxpayer by US mail if any one of these issues arise, but if you fail to respond to their correspondence, then the IRS may contact you by phone or they may even visit a home or business in person.

In the event of receiving a letter from the IRS, the first step should be to read it carefully, then contact your tax preparer and send the letter to them for review. In many instances, a letter showing additional taxes owed is not correct for a number of reasons. A letter and additional documentation may be required to resolve any discrepancies and your tax preparer can handle that for you. If you do indeed owe additional tax on a return that was previously filed, your preparer can ascertain that the amount shown on the letter from IRS is correct and guide you in remitting the taxes owed.


If you receive a call from the IRS and you have NOT received a letter from them, hang up the phone. Do not engage the person on the other end of the line. Your next step should be to contact your tax preparer, and they can give you a number to contact the IRS to find out if the telephone call was a legitimate attempt by their agency to reach you.

If you have received correspondence from the IRS regarding taxes owed and have failed to respond or to have your tax preparer respond on your behalf, and the IRS calls you on the telephone, there are several things you should know:

  1. IRS does not demand payment of taxes using any specific method such as a gift card or prepaid debit card.

  2. IRS will not ask for debit or credit card information over the phone.Payments are made to the US Treasury by check or you may view online payment options at

  3. IRS does not threaten to call the local police, immigration officers, or other law enforcement to arrest a taxpayer for not paying any tax owed.

  4. IRS cannot revoke a license or affect immigration status.


An IRS agent may make official and sometimes unannounced visits to taxpayers as part of an audit or a criminal investigation, or to secure a delinquent tax return or tax payment. Generally, this is not the first contact a taxpayer will have from the IRS. If you have a tax debt and are visited by an agent, here is what you should know:

  1. IRS representatives will always provide their official credentials and an HSPD-12 card that identifies federal employees and contractors.

  2. Collection agents won’t demand immediate payment to ANY source other than the US Treasury.

  3. IRS employees conducting criminal investigations are federal law enforcement officers, and will never demand money.

Stay vigilant and even if someone seems legitimate and presents an ID badge (these can be forged), remember that IRS agents will never threaten a taxpayer.

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