What To Do When You Receive A Summons From The IRS
Before receiving an official IRS summons, you may receive several other notices, including an Information Document Request. The IRS begins by asking you for the information nicely, and issues the summons when you fail to comply.
The official summons can be used to request documents or require your testimony. Summons can also be issued to third parties requesting information about another taxpayer.
Complying With the Summons
Summons present a difficult issue because you can be charged with contempt (after a court order is issued to enforce the summons) if you don’t comply. However, you also don’t want to hand over any information to the IRS that you don’t absolutely have to.
You may have several grounds for withholding information:
- You can challenge whether the summons is part of a legitimate investigation, whether the summons is relevant to that purpose, or whether the IRS already has the requested information.
- You can assert that the IRS has failed to follow the correct procedures while issuing the summons.
- You can plead the Fifth Amendment to avoid incriminating yourself.
- You can assert that information is privileged (protected by attorney-client privilege).
Know What Information to Produce
Consult a tax attorney to get help complying with the summons without producing protected documents. Your attorney should review all documents before you hand them over to the IRS.
If you are required to give testimony, your attorney should also be present. Unfortunately, your tax attorney cannot attend the proceedings in your place, but they can assist you during the process and tell you when to avoid answering questions.
Don’t simply hand over all the requested information without having an attorney review it, or you could be giving the IRS evidence that will be used against you.
Don’t Ignore an IRS Summons
You should contact a tax attorney right away when you receive an IRS summons. You may be held in contempt of court or even face criminal prosecution if you ignore the summons.
If you are the one being investigated by the IRS, your tax attorney also needs to be notified of this immediately so that you can prepare your defense or negotiate a resolution to your IRS tax problems.
Get help responding to an IRS summons by calling Ayar Law at 248-262-3400 or filling out our contact form.
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