If the IRS accepts your tax return as originally filed, you’re done. If it proposes changes, a few things can happen.
If the IRS doesn’t accept the documentation for your tax return, you’ll get a letter explaining any proposed changes.
Contact the IRS at the number shown on the letter, if you don’t understand the changes. If you do understand them, decide if you agree or disagree with some or all the changes.
If you agree with all the proposed changes:
- Sign the agreement page of the letter and return it to the IRS.
- If you owe any additional tax, penalties, and interest, you should pay it as soon as possible, so the IRS won’t charge you any more interest. If you can’t afford to pay the complete amount, consider other payment plans, or contact the IRS to discuss options.
- If the proposed changes result in a refund, you can generally expect to receive it in six to eight weeks (provided you have no other unpaid tax debt or other debts the IRS collects such as past due child support or student loans).
If you don’t agree with some or all the proposed changes:
- Don’t sign the agreement.
- Respond to the IRS by the due date on the letter. This could include sending additional documentation or an explanation to support your position.
- If you need more time to submit your response, call the number on the letter before the due date to ask for additional time.
If the IRS’s examiner still proposes a change to your return, you can:
- Request an informal conference with the examiner’s manager prior to the response date in the letter.
- Request a conference with the IRS Office of Appeals prior to the date in the letter. Make this request in writing. Include your reasons for disagreeing with the IRS.
If you don’t respond by the due dates in the letter, the IRS may disallow what you claimed on your return and issue a Statutory Notice of Deficiency. This is a legal notice the IRS is proposing an additional deficiency (balance due). It gives you 90 days to petition the United States Tax Court (Tax Court) for review of your case. If your address is outside the United States, you have 150 days.
Once you’ve petitioned the Tax Court, if you haven’t already had a conference with the Office of Appeals, the IRS Office of Chief Counsel may forward your case to Appeals for a conference.
Both the Office of Appeals and the United States Tax Court are generally “prepayment forums” which means that you can dispute the proposed adjustment before the IRS assesses it.
The 90-day (or 150-day) deadline to file a petition in Tax Court can’t be extended. If you miss the deadline, you won’t be able to have a judge review your case without first paying the amount due. The 90 or 150 days doesn’t include as the last day a Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal holiday in the District of Columbia.
There are fees to petition to the Tax Court. If you can’t afford to pay the filing fees, you can ask for a waiver.