If you receive a letter from the Internal Revenue Service, it’s not the end of the world. While you may be nervous about what’s to come, you first need to realize what is being asked of you and which steps you need to take in the near future.

There are many reasons why the IRS may send you a letter. For example, they may send you a notice because they require more information related to your tax return. Or it’s possible that they will send a letter notifying you of a delay in processing your return.

Since some situations are more serious than others, you need to know exactly what is going on. This starts with reading your letter from start to finish. From there, you will better understand how to respond.

If you are faced with a serious situation, such as one in which the IRS believes you have committed some type of tax crime, you need to carefully examine your options and think everything through. You don’t want to make a decision that could work against you in the future as you attempt to clear your name.

Make sure you keep copies of every letter you receive, as well as your correspondence.

An IRS letter may not be serious, but you won’t know until you review and fully understand what is being asked of you.

If for any reason you are being accused of something you did not do, make sure you know which steps you can take next. This will help you put your matter in the past sooner rather than later.

Source: IRS, “Understanding Your IRS Notice or Letter,” accessed July 29, 2016