By: N'Dia Knight
If you have ever received a notice from a taxing authority, you know it can be alarming. Immediately, a negative narrative takes over and many assume the worst. “Is this notice real?” “Am I in trouble?” In today’s post we reveal how in just a few steps, and perhaps some help from a tax professional, notices from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue (PADOR) can be quickly identified and addressed.
The PADOR sends notices through via U.S. mail to inform individuals of a possible discrepancy on their PA Personal Income Tax Return. These notices do not come by phone, text message, or email. If you receive a notice in any form other than via U.S. mail, be suspicious.
Many scammers target PA taxpayers, so be careful and pay close attention to the wording of the notice. The most common scams include letters from the “Tax Processing Unit,” the “Tax Processing Center,” the “Benefits Suspension Unit,” and others with similar names. Usually, these scam letters are postmarked from locations outside of Pennsylvania.
To identify a legitimate PA tax notice, observe the address from which it was sent. The letter will be from PADOR in Harrisburg, PA. Your tax advisor will also review and confirm the legitimacy of the notice and inform you of possible next steps.
You can also confirm the legitimacy of PA tax notices by accessing an online self-service provided by PADOR called myPATH- the Pennsylvania Tax Hub. This portal can be accessed at www.myPath.pa.gov. This website is a great way to file PA income tax returns, respond to notices, check on refunds and estimates, extensions, and carryforward credits. To sign up for myPATH, navigate to the website and select “sign up” to create your profile. Other features myPATH offers registered patrons include paying towards a debt, managing payments and balances, requesting a payment plan, and making a bill or lien payment.
To handle and respond to notices, you need not register and create a myPATH profile. Simply go to the bottom of the main page under “Submissions” and select “Respond to a Letter.” However, we strongly advise contacting your tax advisor before responding on your own.
During 2021, PADOR began sending confirmation notices to taxpayers indicating a tax return was received and any credits carried forward. Usually, these notices require no action other than comparing the information reported to the return as filed to ensure they match. These notices differ from assessment notices, which often require immediate action.
You usually must act on any tax notice quickly – generally within 30 days of the notice’s date. Due to delays in the mail, it’s important to double check the response date on the notice. There are penal risks to not responding to notices in a timely manner. Failure to respond within 30 days, can cost the assessed individual additional tax, interest, and penalties. Interest and penalties may increase over time if one continues to ignore the notice. Failure to respond timely can also result in losing the ability to appeal an assessment even if it is incorrect, so read the notice carefully.
Make all attempts to quickly identify the authenticity of any notice from a taxing authority. Contact your tax advisor to ensure any necessary actions are taken promptly. Never ignore a tax notice from any taxing authority. Notices need not be fear-inducing if you take swift action to identify and address them.