As tax professionals, we often have to contact the IRS regarding a client’s tax issue. For many of us, it would seem second nature to pick up the phone and the IRS employee assigned to the case or at least the hotline. Unfortunately, verbal conversations by themselves can put your client at a disadvantage. Take this dialogue for example:
Revenue Officer: Hello, this is Revenue Officer Al Levy.
Tax Professional: Yes, Mr. Levy. I am contacting you regarding your request for financial information from my client Robin Banks.
Revenue Officer: Yes.
Tax Professional: You’re setting a deadline of August 19th. However, we can’t meet that date. We will try for August 31st, but more likely it will be closer to September 15th. My client may have to have surgery and that may interrupt his ability to collect that information.
Revenue Officer: Well I need to close this case as soon as possible.
Tax Professional: I understand your expectations, but we need some flexibility on this time line.
Revenue Officer: Well, I’ll do what I can.
In a subsequent conversation with the Revenue Officer, he claims your client has been dragging the matter out because you missed the August 31st deadline you committed to. His notes in the system document that you called and committed to August 31st to provide Form 433 information. You are now in a he said she said situation and the IRS typically wins those.
So what is your alternative? Here are some tips:
- When possible, fax a response to the IRS. And don’t just use any fax. Use the electronic or internet based faxes. When you fax from an e-fax, not only does it have confirmation that it was received, but the entire fax is saved. So it shows what documents were included in the fax.
- If you mail documents to the IRS, send it certified return receipt. Also, paginate all pages of the set of documents, such as 1 of 10, 2 of 10, etc. Finally, put the USPS tracking number on each page of the documents. My experience is that when this is done, few documents ever get lost.
- If a phone call to the IRS is needed, follow up with an e-fax documenting what was discussed and other details. This will typically get included in the administrative file.
By following these tips, you better protect your client from frivolous claims that documents were never received, lack of follow up by the client or their representative, or other misrepresented claims. And if such claims are made, you have the documentation to counter the claim.
For more of tax tips and ideas, come to the Tax Alliance Conference in Plano, TX, June 6-8, 2017.