It may be in your nature to do it yourself, whatever it is. And while you might be handy with a hammer or an all-star in the kitchen, tackling a tax issue is another matter entirely. Though you may have survived tax season without any bruises, there is an outside chance that you’ll hear from the IRS in the coming months. If you do get a notice advising you of a problem or a possible debt, don’t take action without considering all of your options.
Technically, you can address any IRS issue on your own; much like defending yourself in court, it’s your legal right. But, is that the right move for you? And before you make up your mind on the subject, think about what dealing with the IRS really entails…and think about how much time, patience and tax expertise you have at your disposal. Resolving a tax issue isn’t always easy, and it certainly isn’t fun.
Making Sense of the Problem
Many times, the notice you receive will be fairly straightforward. Perhaps you failed to include some form of income or you’re just being asked to clarify a detail on your return. On the other hand, you may not completely understand, or agree with, what the IRS is saying. Regardless, you’ll be instructed to respond quickly with either your side of the argument or an intended payment method. If you don’t feel 100% confident in your understanding of the problem or the best way to handle it, don’t act alone. You have one shot to respond correctly and you can’t afford to waste it.
Timing is Everything
Keep in mind that as you sort out the issue and the best way to handle it, the clock is ticking. Most IRS notices require a timely response from between 30 to 90 days of being sent out. If the problem involves a debt, it’s also worth remembering that you’re being billed interest and any associated penalties in the interim. These charges will drive up the cost of any liability and the clock doesn’t run out until your full balance is paid.
How Much Time Do You Have, Exactly?
Chances are, you work and have pressing family obligations. Consider the amount of time it will take for you to research the fix for your tax issue and then add that to the time you will spend on hold with the IRS. Are there enough additional hours in your day to handle the problem correctly and thoroughly? The IRS will not provide you extra time to cross all your t’s and dot all your i’s.
Resolving a tax issue isn’t necessarily working with mercury, but you do have to be careful. For instance, the IRS may ask you to provide additional financial details in order to approve a resolution. But, do you have to do this? There are agreements you can enter into which do not require these important details (which, incidentally, put you in poorer position to negotiate). If you’re attempting to obtain the lowest repayment possible, it’s no good to show your hand when you’re at your most vulnerable. How you go about fixing the problem is as important as the resolution itself.
Strength in Numbers
Your best course of action may be to get some help. A reputable tax resolution company can provide you with a free consultation and advise you on the best way to attend to your tax problem. You don’t necessarily have to take the advice or enlist their services, but you’ll be able to make an informed decision. Alternatively, you may decide that dealing with your tax issue is dangerous to your financial and mental well-being. Considering the complexity of any number of tax concerns you might be facing, there’s no shame in admitting you need an experienced professional to help you weather the storm.