The Proper Way to Address a Letter to the IRS

The Proper Way to Address a Letter to the IRS

General Guidelines

Stick to the facts, be polite, do not adopt a confrontational tone and do not be scared. If you have not paid taxes or unknowingly withheld information, calmly state your case, offer your full and honest cooperation, and ask for a solution. If you are strapped for cash and not in a position to pay, let the IRS know and work out a payment plan that fits your budget. The IRS is not out to get you if you are on the right side of the law.

IRS Website

Before compiling your letter, visit the IRS website. The website has a knowledge database with answers to frequently asked questions, a “Contact IRS” section with useful information for mail, telephone and email correspondence, and other sections that may help resolve your issue or simplify your correspondence with the IRS.

Letter Guidelines

If you are responding to a letter from the IRS, the letter should have department information, a reference number, subject line and date. Include this information at the top of your response verbatim.

Identify the relevant IRS department for your issue, if you can. Include department information at the top of your letter, such as “Individual Tax Payer.” Next, include a subject line for your issue such as “Unable to pay delinquent taxes.” Keep the subject line concise, ideally to one line only. Next, include your contact information starting with your Social Security Number or Tax Identification Number and your name or the name of your corporation.

You can start with an anonymous "Dear Sir" or skip the salutation and directly write about your issue. In the body of your letter, clearly state your issue(s) concisely in first-person voice. For example, “I am unemployed and do not have the money to pay my delinquent tax.” Suggest a possible solution if you can, such as, “I would like to request a six-month delay. I expect to find a job within six months and believe I would be able to pay the outstanding balance.” Do not include attachments such as a severance letter or copies of tax forms already filed with the IRS.

Where relevant, such as if you want to file an amended or corrected return, attach the relevant form, completely filled and signed, along with relevant attachments that have changed since your original filing.

If your contact information has changed, include your new contact information and phone number. The IRS often calls filers if it has questions. End your letter politely.

Make a copy of your letter and attachments for your file. If you do not receive an acknowledgment or response within six weeks, contact the IRS to check if they received your letter.