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Collection Sorting Station — IRS Categorizes Taxpayer’s Case

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

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. After a case arrives in ACS, the IRS checks for levy sources, telephone numbers, and other characteristics. These actions result in additional computer-generated notices to taxpayers. 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 making contact with taxpayers by issuing various notices and visiting taxpayers personally in the field to resolve balance due accounts and secure missing tax returns.
  • The Queue is an electronic holding area for taxpayer delinquent accounts that are held until assignment to field Revenue Officers.
  • 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 Debt Collection. While in shelved status, penalties (up to the maximum allowed by law) and interest continue to accrue.

What does this letter or notice mean to me?

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

If you can’t pay the full amount by that date, you need to decide what payment options might work for your situation, and act to set up a payment plan or discuss other ways to pay off your balance. 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. For specifics, see I got a notice from the IRS.

This notice also explains 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.

If the IRS has notified you that they have suspended enforced collection on your account because it would create a financial hardship (meaning you would be unable to pay basic reasonable living expenses if the IRS levied) AND your financial situation has not changed, you don’t need to do anything.

How did I get here?

You have a balance on your tax account, so the IRS has sent you an annual reminder notice letting you know how much you owe, including penalties and interest, when it’s due, and how to pay.

Also, the IRS may have notified you that they have suspended enforced collection on your account because it would create a financial hardship (meaning you would be unable to pay basic reasonable living expenses if the IRS levied).

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 the IRS has notified you that they have suspended enforced collection on your account because it would create a financial hardship (meaning you would be unable to pay basic reasonable living expenses if the IRS levied) AND your financial situation has not changed, you don’t need to do anything.

If the IRS has NOT notified you that it has suspended enforced collection on your account and you can’t pay the full amount by that date, 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.

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. For specifics, see I got a notice from the IRS and Revocation or Denial of Passport in Case of Certain Unpaid Taxes.

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. For specific instructions, see Notice 746, Information About Your Notice, Penalty and Interest.

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. Too little can lead to a tax bill or penalty. Too much can mean you won’t have use of the money until you receive a tax refund.

Where can I get additional help?

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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)
    • Notice CP71, Annual balance due reminder (Status 23)
  • Notice CP71A, Annual balance due reminder (Status 53)
  • Notice CP71C, Annual balance due reminder (Status 24)
  • Notice CP71D, Annual balance due reminder (Status 26)

Case Waiting for Assignment (Queue)

    • Notice CP71, Annual balance due reminder (Status 23)
  • Notice CP71A, Annual balance due reminder (Status 53)
  • Notice CP71C, Annual balance due reminder (Status 24)
  • Notice CP71D, Annual balance due reminder (Status 26)
  • Letter 39, Reminder Notice

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?

Sorting Station — IRS Categorizes Taxpayer’s Case

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