Occasionally I come across an issue that’s relevant to other freelancers and find the best thing to do is share what I’ve learned. So many people have answered questions for me that I consider it only a small way to pay it forward.
Freelancers of all kinds receive income in a variety of ways and often accept payments in a number of formats. When you earn over $600 in a fiscal year (12 months) from a company they are required legally to send you a 1099. This is a form that is like getting a W2 at the end of the year only freelancers aren’t employees, so we have to pay our own taxes, social security, and Medicare taxes. While I report all income I earn the forms are to help the IRS track payments for small business owners, freelancers, and consultants.
I received a CP2000 letter in the mail from the IRS that stated I had underreported my income by not claiming several 1099s. If you have heard of people who owe back taxes (sometimes going to jail for it) then you know what this means. It means the IRS thought I didn’t claim income and they had the forms to prove it. They wanted me to pony up what I owed and adjusted the rest of our credits and deductions meaning we’d owe more due to the loss of some key deductions.
At the time I was working with clients who had used my social security number on tax forms. Midway through the year I had switched business classifications to an LLP-a limited liability partnership. When you’re a business like that you use an EIN (employee identification number) instead of your social security number.
The income was claimed on our taxes under my business, but the IRS’s automated processes didn’t catch that I had claimed it. The letter was their way of informing me they were asking for an adjustment on our tax owed based on me not claiming that income. Once I understood the issue I just had to provide some documentation. I was able to make copies of our taxes and some forms, provide the information with a brief letter, and mailed it off in just under an hour.
Then I waited. More on how it turned out below. But first…
What Should You Do If You Get A Letter From The IRS?
No matter what type of letter you receive these steps will be helpful.
1. First step-don’t panic.
Ok, panic a little and then read up online about what the letter means.
2. Find more info online.
You can search IRS.gov for the form you received and you can find information on contacting the IRS on their site. You can also search the world wide web (you may have done so to land here in fact). Here is the info about a CP2000 letter.
3. Provide relevant paperwork.
Often it’s a case of sending in paperwork to the IRS and nothing more. In my case I just had to type up a note and include documents that showed proof of my statements. If it’s more serious, like an audit, work with your CPA or start gathering your receipts and documents in preparation.
4. Make copies of all communication.
Before you send off anything make sure you have your own copies for your records.
Who do you call or talk to with questions?
- IRS: I know it seems counter-intuitive, but the thing is that’s what they are there for, so don’t be nervous about calling to clarify and ask questions about what you need to provide to the IRS. In many cases you need to provide information or payment.
- CPA or Accountant: If you have a CPA or accountant who helped or filed your taxes for you should reach out for assistance.
What do I do if I have a payment due?
If you’re being asked to pay a fee, fines, or another form of payment in most cases it is best to make your payment immediately because fines will only continue to increase if you delay.
If you can’t pay immediately you can often set up a payment plan. And while you don’t want fees piling up in most cases the fees are tiny compared to what you may owe.
The only case where you shouldn’t pay is when you’re aware that the IRS has it wrong, and even then you might consider paying it just in case.
What response should you expect from the IRS?
The IRS will first send a letter stating that they received your letter or fax and will review the information. Again a payment form was attached.
Approximately 4 weeks later I received another letter stating that the information provided cleared up the issue and that we in fact owe nothing.
My Letter To The IRS
This is the actual copy of my letter minus the header (using the IRS address) and personal details.
I received a CP2000 notice in the mail, and do not agree with the changes. This letter is to inform you of the items I dispute.
Unclaimed income from 1099s was listed as ‘Other Income’ on the changes suggested on the CP2000 letter. However, the income listed on the 1099s was claimed under Business Name. The 1099s listed are from Client #1. ($700), Client #2 ($1,650), and Client #3 ($500).
As this income was already claimed under my business it can not be placed under Other Income on the return. Therefore the changes are invalid.
I have included copies of our tax return and the copies I have of the 1099s (which were submitted with our return).
Additionally, the child care tax deduction changes suggested (decreasing based on income) on the CP2000 are based on the income adjustment disputed above. Therefore all suggested changes are invalid.
Should there be any other documentation necessary please contact me at the contact info listed below.
Signed & Dated
Have you ever had to amend a return or file more info with the IRS? Would love to hear about your experience in the comments.