When I first got into computers in the 1980's, I found a great book-Computer Wimp by John Bear. He was trying to take the fear of the unknown out of this new machine. One chapter dealt with how many problems could be solved if the new computer owners would just RTM- "read the manual" (sometimes there is an "F" in there too.) Now, most of us don't need manuals for computers but the same failure to read is an issue dealing with the IRS.
I know that the IRS notices can be challenging to read. The IRS knows that and they are working to simplify some of the notices. But too many taxpayers don't try. They open the notice, look through the papers, and if I'm lucky, bring it to me. Too often, I don't see them until the 2nd notice. If they do try to respond on their own, they don't FTR-Follow the Rules. Sending the letter back with a note saying "You're Wrong, I don't owe this" never works. However, using their form, saying you disagree with the changes and documenting why you disagree works so much better. Telling the IRS that you already sent what they are requesting never works as well as re-sending them the documentation they're requesting
But it's not just notices where taxpayers need to follow the rules. If you make an agreement with the IRS, read the rules. If you're paying on a 2008 balance due and come up owing on 2009, you have to pay that 2009 balance due or the IRS will cancel the installment agreement. It's in the rules for an installment agreement. You want to make to rollover from one IRA to another yourself and bypass the trustees? Okay. But you need to make sure you understand how the IRS counts the 60 day time limit and be sure you're not making too many rollovers in one year. I can't count the number of times I have had a client get huffy because I insist on following the procedures. It's easier to get it right the first time.
Follow the time constraints you're given. If you need more time, call and request it. If you don't have a history of blowing the IRS and their requests off, you will likely get the time you need. The same with meetings. Show up prepared, or call and get more time, then show up prepared.
The bottom line is that this is the IRS's playing field and they make they rules. They have to since they deal with over 200 million pieces of correspondence a year and want to treat everyone fairly. So-follow their rules. In the long run, it's easier. And yes, this goes for the states too.