Getting an IRS notice in the mail is probably one of the more frightening tax-related things that can happen to most of your clients. Often, taxpayers are so overwhelmed by the simple existence of the notice that they spend more time imagining all the horrible outcomes than stopping to read the notice thoroughly.
However, with a little help from their friendly neighborhood tax professional, a.k.a. you, your client will be more likely to get through their IRS trouble without having a panic attack. Let’s take a look at exactly what you can do to help them.
The first step in preparing your clients for an IRS notice comes before they ever receive the notice. When a client receives an IRS notice in the mail, they need to know that they have someone on their side who can help them deal with their IRS problem. They need to know that you are that person. They need to trust you.
That means that you need to proactively invite your clients to let you help them. Make sure all of your clients know that you have the knowledge and tools to help them deal with the notice quickly and efficiently. That way you’re the first person they call when they find an IRS notice in their mailbox.
Clearly Explain the Problem
Most of the time, IRS notices aren’t actually saying anything scary. Most notices aren’t threatening to put a lien on your client’s property or levy their retirement account. Many notices are just the IRS asking for clarification or more information.
So help your client read the notice carefully and explain to them exactly what the IRS is looking for. Use that explanation to help build a roadmap for solving the problem that your client can easily understand. The better they understand the problem and the solution, the more your client’s mind will be at ease.
Be Prompt and Patient
When a client comes to you with an IRS notice, it’s important to show your client that you take the problem seriously by responding to the IRS quickly. Many notices won’t require a complicated response and shouldn’t take too much time out of your day.
However, once your response is in the IRS’s hands, it’s time to be patient. The IRS deals with hundreds of thousands of notices, so it may take them time to process your response no matter how quick you respond. You can help your client by reaching out to them regularly to let them know the status of their notice, even if it hasn’t changed. Just knowing that you haven’t forgotten about their IRS problem will help keep your client calm and confident in your ability to help them.
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