Three Types of IRS Summonses and How to Respond

Few things are more frightening to a taxpayer than receiving a summons from the IRS. You may automatically assume that you’ve been targeted for a criminal investigation when the reality is that the government regularly issues summonses for reasons that have nothing to do with suspicion of misconduct. Below is an overview of three types of summons you may receive from the IRS and how to respond appropriately.

1. For Books, Records, and Other Documentary Data

IRC Section 7602(a) gives the IRS the authority to review books, records, and other documentation that can confirm the accuracy of a taxpayer’s filed return. This summons, which is typically served by certified or registered mail, will indicate what information is needed and any applicable deadlines. This kind of summons is often served directly on third parties and can be served on banks to request your banking records.

2. To Come Before the IRS and Provide Testimony

The IRS may require you to provide direct testimony under oath for a number of reasons, including but not limited to:

  • Verifying the accuracy of a return you’ve filed
  • Locating assets for the purposes of tax collection
  • Preparing a substitute for return
  • Inquiring into potential violations of internal revenue laws

This type of summons is often delivered to you in person or left at your home or business.

3. Request For a Third Party to Come Before the IRS and Provide Testimony

In its quest for information, the IRS may summon the testimony of your accountant, employees, corporate officers, and other third parties who can provide records or insights about your tax situation. 

What Should You Do?

When you receive a summons from the IRS, the way you respond can affect the outcome of your tax situation. For obvious reasons, you should never ignore a summons – a basic request for certain bank records can quickly escalate into a more detailed investigation.  You and/or your employees and financial services providers may be required to testify before an IRS agent.

Instead, contact a Washington tax attorney with years of experience dealing with IRS investigations. At Boeshaar Law, we will explain how to respond to the summons, protect your rights during communications with the government and, if a problem arises, help you find the best solution to an unexpected tax complication. To review your situation with a seasoned tax attorney, call 206-623-0063.