"What Is This For?" Understanding Your IRS Summons

As a taxpayer, it can often be an extremely frightening experience to suddenly receive a summons from the IRS. Many taxpayers mistakenly believe that a summons is only issued as part of a criminal investigation. In reality, you may receive a summons from the IRS for several different reasons. The IRS may issue a summons in order to determine the correctness of a tax return, to make a substitute tax return if none has been filed by the taxpayer, or to determine the liability of any person for any type of tax. Understanding the type of summons you receive will help you to respond properly.

Three Types of Summons Issued by the IRS

What are the various types of summons that may be issued by the IRS? You may receive a summons for any of the following reasons:

  • For books, records, and other documentary data,
  • To come before the IRS and provide testimony,
  • For a third party to come before the IRS and provide testimony.

The way in which the summons is served is an excellent clue as to what type of summons it is. For example, if the summons is served by certified or registered mail, it is always a summons to a third party record keeper. If the summons is made by hand or left at the taxpayer’s home or business, the summons could be any other type of third party summons, or it could be a summons on the taxpayer himself to provide information or testimony.

How you respond to a summons from the IRS may have a significant impact on the outcome of your tax problem. For this reason, it is crucial to obtain guidance from an experienced legal professional before proceeding. If you have been served a summons by the IRS, we strongly encourage you to contact us today for more information at (800) 721-7054.

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