Robert J. Fedor, Esq., L.L.C.

Additional advice on how to effectively communicate with the IRS

In our last blog post we provided some helpful dos and don'ts taxpayers should keep in mind when dealing with the IRS. In this post, we'll continue to explore this topic and discuss ways taxpayers can minimize the frustration and stress of answering IRS requests or dealing with an IRS audit.

When on vacation and attempting to communicate with an individual from France or Spain, one is much more likely to find help or at least a smile when he or she attempts to speak the native language. The same can be true when dealing with IRS officials and employees. While it's important not to come off as a know-it-all or expert, knowing some key phrases and lingo can greatly help in engendering clear communication and in convincing an IRS agent that a taxpayer respects his or her position and authority.

Some examples of useful IRS phrases and lingo include terms like abatement and reasonable cause. In addition to knowing certain key phrases and terms, it's also important to know how the IRS both refers to and attempts to remedy certain situations. For example, a taxpayer who is broke and therefore unable to pay a $100,000 tax bill may benefit from declaring that he or she is "currently not collectible". Additionally, a taxpayer who find themselves in hot water with the IRS over the actions of an estranged spouse can deem themselves to be the "innocent spouse."

In the case where an individual is able to broker a deal or arrangement with the IRS to repay tax debt, it's important to follow through with the agreed upon plan. Individuals who encounter a financial hardship that impacts their ability to make a monthly IRS payment would be wise to contact the agency and be honest about their situation prior to missing a payment.

While there are no guarantees when it comes to dealing with the IRS and whether or not one's experience will have a favorable outcome, there are ways to improve one's chances. However, individuals facing IRS scrutiny would be wise to not rely solely upon charm or intellect and to contact an attorney who handles criminal tax matters.

Source: Sonoma Valley Sun, "7 tips for negotiating with the IRS," Bonnie Lee, May 28, 2014

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