The Notice of Deficiency IRS Letters 3219 and 531 (also referred to as 90-Day Letters), are a taxpayer’s legal notice that the IRS is proposing a deficiency (balance due). These letters provide taxpayers with information about their right to challenge proposed IRS adjustments in the United States Tax Court by filing a petition within 90 days of the date of their notice (150 days if the notice is addressed to a person outside the United States).
If the IRS is proposing to adjust the amount of tax you owe, you will typically be sent a statutory notice of deficiency informing you of the proposed change. IRS Letter 3219 is sent to taxpayers whose IRS audit was conducted by mail, while IRS Letter 531 is issued to taxpayers whose audits were conducted in person. Because this notice provides you with the right to challenge the proposed adjustment in the Tax Court without first paying the proposed adjustment, the statutory notice of deficiency is often considered “your ticket to the Tax Court.”
The IRS is required to send a statutory notice of deficiency to a taxpayer’s last known address by certified mail. The last known address is generally the address that appears on your most recently filed and properly processed tax return unless the IRS is given clear and concise notification of a different address.
The notice of deficiency must describe the basis for, and identify the amounts (if any) of, tax due, interest, and penalties.
How did I get here?
You received an IRS Letter 3219 or IRS Letter 531 because the IRS completed the examination of your tax return and proposed changes to the amount of tax you owe. You have either not responded or have not provided a signed agreement consenting to these changes. Without your consent, the IRS cannot assess the proposed deficiency without first providing you an opportunity to challenge these adjustments by filing a petition with the Tax Court.
What are my next steps?
You should review the complete audit report enclosed with your letter. You should determine if you agree with the proposed changes or wish to file a petition with the Tax Court to dispute the adjustments made by the IRS. If you agree, sign and return Form 4089-B, Notice of Deficiency-Waiver, included with your Letter 531, or the included Form 5564, Notice of Deficiency-Waiver, if you received Letter 3219.
If you do not agree with the adjustments and intend to file a petition, you should review the information provided in your letter, along with the information and instructions available on the United States Tax Court website. The necessary forms can be found on this website, along with a Petition Kit. There is a fee for the filing of a petition; however, you may file an Application for Waiver of Filing Fee with the Tax Court to request the filing fee be waived. To petition the Tax Court, you must send your petition to the United States Tax Court (not the IRS) within the 90-day (or 150-day) period shown on your notice. This 90-day (or 150-day) period is the time period prescribed by law and cannot be extended by the IRS. If you miss the deadline, the tax court can’t consider your case and the proposed tax will be assessed. If the 90th day (or 150th day) is a Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal holiday in the District of Columbia, your petition will still be timely if filed on the next business day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.