A summons is an order from the IRS to provide information, typically by handing over documents or providing testimony. You may receive a summons if the IRS is investigating you, but a summons can also be issued to a third party that may have information about the taxpayer being investigated.
Summons vs. Information Document Request
An information document request (IDR) generally comes before a summons. The IDR is the IRS asking “nicely” for certain documents, and you are not obligated to comply.
However, this doesn’t mean you should ignore an IDR or fail to produce the documents without a valid reason. There are times to push back against the IRS, but you generally want to cooperate unless you have a legitimate reason to deny the request. If you ignore an IDR, the IRS can continue to pursue the information usually more aggressive methods, such as a summons.
A summons can be enforced by a court order if you don’t oblige. You can be found in contempt if you don’t abide by this court order.
Responding to the Summons
You should contact a tax attorney immediately if you receive an IRS summons. In many cases, your best option is to produce the requested information, but there are some circumstances where you may want to fight the summons. If you have to testify before the IRS, you shouldn’t do so without having an attorney there to represent you.
One common reason to resist the summons is if the information is protected by attorney-client privilege. You can argue your case in district court, but the standard you’ll need to meet is fairly high, and there’s a good chance the IRS will get its way.
If there is some type of procedural problem with the summons, the IRS can just fix the problem and issue a new summons, so you’ll still end up having to show why the summons is improper in court.
Get Help With an IRS Summons
Receipt of a summons is s sign that the IRS is taking your case seriously. If you haven’t already done so, you should get legal advice from a tax controversy attorney.
Get help responding to an IRS summons by calling The Gartzman Law Firm at (770) 939-7710. We can listen to your concerns and help you find the best tax resolution strategy for your case.