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Can You Trust What the IRS Tells You Online or Over the Phone?

Can you trust what the IRS tells you online or over the phone? FAQs and other items posted on that have not been published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin are not legal authority. Learn More.

There is simply no way around it:  taxes are often extremely complex and one may need a helping hand to understand how the U.S. Tax Code applies to your situation or circumstances. Frequently, a taxpayer’s first inclination when they run into trouble is to look up information on the IRS’s website or to call the IRS. While this isn’t a bad first step towards getting a handle on a tax concern, one must be extremely cognizant about the source of the information provided. Stated differently, only certain IRS documents that set forth tax policy are given force of law. While other documents may provide persuasive information, it is best to understand the strength of one’s tax position before filing.

If you have questions about tax guidance provided by the IRS or simply want the peace of mind of having a professional handle your taxes, work with the accountants and tax professionals of the Cook CPA Group. We can assist with an array of tax concerns and while also looking to legally minimize the tax you pay. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, please call 916-432-2218.

Only Certain Information on Is Considered “Official” for Tax Filing Purposes

The IRS has generally engaged in efforts to provide a wealth of information on its website. This effort should generally be applauded, however, taxpayers should remain aware that not all information posted on the site has the same standing or legal force. Recently, the IRS released a publication reminding taxpayers and tax practitioners of this fact. In a recent May 18, 2017, memo issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the exact way a taxpayer should treat information posted online by the IRS is set forth.

The memo states that for purposes of filing taxes, ““…remind examiners that frequently asked questions (FAQs) and other items posted on that have not been published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin are not legal authority. The FAQs and other items should not be used to sustain a position unless the items (e.g., FAQs) explicitly indicate otherwise or the IRS indicates otherwise…” An additional corresponding Internal Revenue Bulletin states that only information published within an Internal Revenue Bulletin should be considered an “authoritative instrument of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue for announcing official IRS rulings and procedures and for publishing Treasury Decisions, Executive Orders, Tax Conventions, legislation, court decisions, and other items of general interest.”

In other words, this means that taxpayers should verify all information on the IRS website that does not appear in a Internal Revenue Bulletin with a tax professional. The accountants of the Cook CPA Group may be able to assist.

What about Phone Advice from the IRS?

One again, a similar concept applies regarding advice obtained over the phone from the IRS. Unless the IRS agent is specifically citing to information contained within an Internal Revenue Bulletin, the taxpayer should verify that the Tax Code or other authoritative materials are in accord with the information provided.

Calls from IRS

In addition to verifying that tax guidance and information is accurate and well-suited to the situation, taxpayers who call into the IRS also often must contend with long wait times and “courtesy disconnects.” Courtesy disconnects occur when a caller has remained on hold for longer than certain predefined waiting periods. While wait times are not nearly as bad as they were in 2015, this still represents an additional layer of difficulty and frustration for a taxpayer to deal with. Working with an experienced tax professional can avoid long IRS wait times and ensure that the information your receive is accurate and appropriate for your tax situation.

Work with Experienced CPAs when Dealing with the IRS

If you are worried about information you received from the IRS or simply would like to have the peace of mind that working with tax professionals can bring, call the accountants of the Cook CPA Group today. Our accountants are dedicated to providing on-point tax advice and guidance to businesses and individuals. To schedule a free and confidential consultation at our Roseville accounting office, please call 916-432-2218.