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Published: April 21, 2022   |   Last Updated: June 21, 2022

Collection Sorting Station — IRS Categorizes Taxpayer’s Case

  • Field Collection
  • Automated Collection System (ACS)
  • Case Not Assigned (Shelved)
  • Case Waiting for Assignment (Queue) to Field Collection

View our interactive tax map to see where you are in the tax process. It could help you navigate your way through the IRS.

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Station Overview

Taxpayer receives various notices or letters from the IRS requesting payment for the tax balance owing and/or filing of missing tax returns. If the taxpayer does not respond to the notice or letter, the IRS categorizes the taxpayer’s cases with taxes due and/or missing tax returns and routes them to one of the following: Automated Collection System (ACS), Field Collection, Queue, or Shelved.

  • ACS is a computerized inventory system and telephone call center. Customer Service Representatives work ACS cases and respond to phone calls from taxpayers to resolve balance due accounts and secure missing tax returns.
  • Field Collection involves Revenue Officers (ROs) contacting taxpayers unannounced at their home or business to resolve balance due accounts and secure missing tax returns. Various letters and/or notices may be sent by the RO while the case is being assigned.
  • The Queue is an electronic holding area for taxpayer delinquent accounts that are held until assignment to ROs.
  • Shelved cases are those not actively being worked by the IRS but they may be assigned at a later date to ACS, Field Collection or sent to Private Collection Agency. While in shelved status, penalties (up to the maximum allowed by law) and interest continue to accrue.

This section may include additional topics that have not yet been covered here. Please check back frequently for updates.

What does this mean to me?

If you are assigned to a Revenue Officer (RO), you can expect that the RO will make contact with you by visiting you at your home or business. These visits are generally unannounced. You may also receive an appointment letter requesting you be available to meet via phone or in-person. It is important that you respond to your assigned RO to avoid unnecessary collection action, such as levy of your bank account or wages. When you are assigned to the Queue or to a RO, you are not able to use the online payment plan option and will need to establish a payment plan through your assigned RO. Your assigned RO can also assist you with other options, such as an Offer in Compromise (OIC) and Currently Not Collectible (CNC) status.

If you are assigned to ACS, the queue, or your case has been shelved, you may receive various letters or notices advising of your balance and/or unfiled returns.  It is important that you read these letters or notices.  You may be able to request a short-term or long-term payment plan. If you are unable to full pay your liability in the time frame for a payment plan, you may qualify for a partial payment installment agreement.  You can also call IRS and an employee can assist you with other options, such as an OIC and CNC status.

Being proactive in addressing the tax debt may prevent additional penalty and interest charges and eliminate the need for the IRS to take action to collect the balance. See Notice 746, Information About Your Notice, Penalty and Interest.

Depending on the amount you owe, you may receive a notice explaining the possible denial or revocation of your United States passport. Visit Revocation or Denial of Passport in Case of Certain Unpaid Taxes for further information.

How did I get here?

You have a balance on your tax account and/or you have a delinquent tax return(s), so your case is now being assigned to the Collection function.

 

What are my next steps?

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

If it’s from the IRS, the notice will have instructions on how to respond and will provide a website address for you to visit for additional information. Visit I Got a Notice From the IRS for further details including what to do if the notice is not from the IRS.

If you disagree with the notice, call the IRS at the toll-free number on the top right corner of your notice. Please have your paperwork (such as cancelled checks, amended return, etc.) ready when you call. See also Publication 5, Your Appeal Rights and How to Prepare a Protest If You Don’t Agree.

If you are assigned to ACS or your case is shelved and you can’t pay the full amount by the date on your notice, you need to decide what payment options might work for your situation, and contact the IRS to set up a payment plan or discuss other ways to address your balance.

If you are assigned to the Queue or your case is assigned to a RO and you can’t pay the full amount by the date on the notice, you need to contact your assigned RO and discuss other payment options.

Being proactive in addressing the tax debt may prevent additional penalty and interest charges and eliminate the need for the IRS to take action to collect the balance.

If you believe you have an acceptable reason for interest or a penalty to be removed or reduced, you may complete Form 843, Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement, or send a signed statement to the IRS explaining your reasons why.

You may wish to check your tax withholding to make sure you have enough taken from your paycheck each pay period or that you have made an accurate estimated tax payment to ensure you do not have a balance due at the end of the year. You may use the IRS withholding calculator to figure your federal income tax and withholding. When you use the withholding calculator, it will help you determine if you need to adjust your withholding and submit a new, 2022 Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, to your employer.

Where can I get additional help?

Get Help topics

If you 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.

Related Letters or Notices

Field Collection

    • See Notice of Intent to Levy and Right to Collection Due Process Hearing box

Automated Collection System (ACS)

    • See Notice of Intent to Levy and Right to Collection Due Process Hearing box
    • Letter 16, ACS Letter: Please Call Us About Your Overdue Taxes Or Tax Return
    • Letter 5972C, Automated Collection System Text Chat

Case Not Assigned (Shelved)

Case Waiting for Assignment (Queue)

Taxpayer Rights

The Right to Pay No More Than the Correct Amount of Tax

Taxpayer Rights
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Where am I in the tax system?

Collection Sorting Station — IRS Categorizes Taxpayer’s Case

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