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Published: February 16, 2022   |   Last Updated: February 16, 2022

I Got a Notice From the IRS

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will send a notice or a letter for any number of reasons. It may be about a specific issue on your federal tax return or account, or may tell you about changes to your account, ask you for more information, or request a payment.

You can handle most of this correspondence without calling or visiting an IRS office if you follow the instructions in the document.

person holding a paper with their hand out

What do I need to know?

The IRS sends out letters or notices for many reasons. Generally, it’s about a specific issue with a taxpayer’s federal tax return or tax account. A notice tells a taxpayer about changes to his/her account. Your notice or letter will explain the reason for the contact and give you instructions on how to handle the issue.

It is important to mention that NOT all letters and notices that you receive from the IRS are necessarily bad.

In certain circumstances, the IRS may send you a letter or notice communicating the fact that there was a math error and the IRS has corrected it in your favor. Under these circumstances, you may not be required to take further action. In other situations, the IRS may need you to send them information about an item reported on your tax return. Also, the IRS may be notifying you that you may be a victim of identity theft or that you have an unpaid tax obligation.

New Way for Taxpayers to Request Notices in Alternative Media Formats

Beginning in 2022, taxpayers who are visually impaired and other taxpayers with disabilities can complete IRS Form 9000, Alternative Media Preference, to elect to receive IRS tax notices in Braille, large print, audio, or electronic formats. Taxpayers have the option to e-file IRS Form 9000 with their tax return, mail it as a standalone document to the IRS, or call 800-829-1040 to choose their preferred format. Forms 9000 submitted separately from tax returns should be mailed to the following address:

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service
Kansas City, MO 64999-0002

Accessibility Helpline

An IRS Accessibility Helpline is now available to answer questions related to current and future accessibility services and alternative media formats available to taxpayers with disabilities. Calls will be routed to a voice messaging system. An accessibility specialist will return the call within two business days. Taxpayers can reach this service by calling 833-690-0598.

Note: It is important to know that the IRS Accessibility Helpline does not have access to your IRS tax account. For assistance with matters related to your IRS tax account, first refer to your notice for contact information and then visit our Get Help Topics or Taxpayer Roadmap for more resources.

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What should I do?

Before you proceed, check where the notice came from

The first thing to do is to check the return address to be sure it’s from the IRS and not another agency.

If it’s from the IRS, the notice will have instructions on how to respond. If you want more details about your tax account, you can order a transcript.

If it’s from another agency, such as a state tax department, you’ll need to call that office for an explanation.

If the letter is from the Department of the Treasury Bureau of the Fiscal Service, these notices are often sent when the IRS takes (offsets) some or part of your tax refund to cover another, non-IRS debt. The Bureau of the Fiscal Service only facilitates the transfers – it won’t have information about your IRS account or where the money is being sent.

Understanding your Notice

IRS notices and letters are numbered and provide contact information for questions. Both are usually shown in the upper right corner. The notice or letter will explain the reason for the contact and give instructions on how to handle the issue.

If you’ve received a letter or notice from the IRS, the first step is to determine exactly what the IRS is attempting to communicate to you. In other words, you should read the letter or notice carefully and assess its contents. To better understand the purpose of the letter or notice, you’ll need to identify the letter or notice number, which is located in either the top or bottom right-hand corner of the letter or notice preceded by the letters CP or LTR.

Once you’ve found the CP or LTR number, you can proceed to IRS’ Notices & Letters Search, which is a look-up tool for both individual and business taxpayers. The second step is to follow the instructions on the notice or letter if you disagree with the information. You can call the IRS at the contact phone number located in the top right-hand corner of the notice or letter. Also, you can write to the IRS at the address on the notice or letter. The timeframe for the IRS to respond to your written communication is provided on the notice or letter.

Converting your notice or letter to an alternative media format

If you’ve already received a notice or letter in print format and prefer it in an alternative media format, such as Braille, large print, audio, or electronic format, you can choose one of the three methods below to request it in an alternative media format:

  • Call the IRS tax assistance number at 800-829-1040.
  • Fax your notice and a cover sheet to: Alternative Media Center (AMC), at 855-473-2006. On the cover sheet, write “Alternative Media Format” at the top and include your name, address, daytime phone number and your preferred alternative media format.
  • Mail your notice with a note stating your preferred format (Braille or large print) to: Internal Revenue Service, Alternative Media Center, 400 N. 8th St. Room G39, Richmond, VA 23219.

It will take up to 15 business days for the IRS Alternative Media Center to convert your notice to your preferred format and mail it back to you.

Languages other than English

Taxpayers can complete Form 1040 Schedule LEP, Request for Change in Language Preference, to receive written communications from the IRS in one of twenty languages of your choice. Follow the LEP instructions and file the schedule with your tax return. Once processed, the IRS will be able to determine your translation needs and provide you translations when available.

There are a few main categories for notices:

Informational notices

Claiming certain tax credits and other interactions with the IRS may lead the IRS to send you a notice. Most of the time, they are just for your records and you don’t need to reply.

Notices about changes to your tax return or account

The IRS may have already made a change or be looking at your return to see if there was a mistake. The notice will have instructions on if or how you need to reply.

Some common notices of a change:

Notices where the IRS says you owe taxes

If you have a balance on your tax account, you’ll get a notice letting you know how much you owe, when it’s due, and how to pay.

If you can’t pay the full amount by that date, you need to figure out what payment options might work for your situation, and act to set up a payment plan or other way to pay off your balance.

What if I want to talk to someone about the notice?

Each notice should include contact information. Some phone numbers on letters or notices are general IRS toll-free numbers, but if a specific employee is working your case, it will show a specific phone number to reach that employee or the department manager.

If you’ve lost your notice

If you’ve lost your notice, call one of the following toll-free numbers for help:

  • Individual taxpayers: 800-829-1040 (TTY/TDD 800-829-4059)
  • Business taxpayers: 800-829-4933

What if I want to ask for a tax professional’s help to reply to a notice or letter?

You can resolve most notices without help, but you can also get the help of a professional – either the person who prepared your return, or another tax professional.

Tips on how to choose a tax professional

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How will this affect me?

Regardless of the situation you face, you should never ignore a notice or letter from the IRS. It’s important that you address the situation appropriately and in a timely manner by the specific date shown on the notice or letter. Failure to comply, could negatively impact your tax account and/or your rights as follows:

  • increase in additional interest and penalty charges for late response and/or providing incomplete information
  • loss of your appeal rights (rights to challenge) if you don’t agree
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Wait, I still need help.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers and protects taxpayers’ rights. We can offer you help if your tax problem is causing a financial difficulty, you’ve tried and been unable to resolve your issue with the IRS, or you believe an IRS system, process, or procedure just isn’t working as it should. If you qualify for our assistance, which is always free, we will do everything possible to help you.

Visit www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov or call 1-877-777-4778.

Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) are independent from the IRS and TAS. LITCs represent individuals whose income is below a certain level and who need to resolve tax problems with the IRS. LITCs can represent taxpayers in audits, appeals, and tax collection disputes before the IRS and in court. In addition, LITCs can provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language. Services are offered for free or a small fee. For more information or to find an LITC near you, see the LITC page on the TAS website or Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List.

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