1. Be courteous and respectful. You will get nowhere with an angry or condescending attitude, and will just give the IRS reason to come down harder on you. When your head is in the mouth of the bear, say nice bear.
2. Abide by deadlines, or call for more time if one can’t be met. Don’t let it pass. The IRS will assume the worst if there is no contact, but usually will be forgiving if a call is placed with a reasonable explanation.
3. Do not give false or misleading information. Hard questions may require some thought for good answers that are both correct and in your best interest, but false information is always a no-no. It is not worth turning a civil collection or audit matter into a potential criminal one.
4. Open your mail. It is intimidating to get IRS letters in the mail. But those letters are often very important, and give you legal rights that will lapse if not attended to. Ignorance to what the IRS is sending you is not a defense. It will only complicate matters and make it harder to dig out later.
5. Stay current on your taxes. File and pay on time while you are negotiating and thereafter. There will be no negotiations if you are not current, and any success in the negotiations will ultimately fail if you later default.