The first thing to do is to check the return address to be sure it’s from the IRS and not another agency.
Read your notice carefully. It will explain how we applied the refund, how much tax (if any) you still owe, and how to pay any remaining balance due.
If you didn’t file the return claiming the refund that was applied to your unpaid federal tax debt: Call the IRS immediately, as you may be a victim of tax-related identity theft. See Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft | irs.gov.
You can authorize someone (such as a certified public accountant, attorney, or enrolled agent) to represent you before the IRS. Alternatively, you can authorize anyone (including a family member) to receive your confidential tax information.
What if I disagree
If you disagree, 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.
If a portion of your joint refund was applied (often referred to as offset) to federal taxes owed by your spouse and you don’t legally owe any portion of the debt, you can file a Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation (PDF), to claim your share of the joint refund.
If your tax refund was offset to pay a joint federal tax debt and you believe your spouse or former spouse should be held responsible for all or part of the balance due, you should request relief from the liability. To request relief, file Form 8857, Request for Innocent Spouse Relief.
What happens if the refund used didn’t pay the full amount I owed, and I can’t pay the rest?
Pay online, by phone, or with a mobile device. Visit IRS.gov/payments or the IRS2Go mobile app for all IRS payment options.
If you plan to mail a payment, consider the electronic options at IRS.gov/payments first. It’s free to pay from a bank account (Direct Pay) or the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). You can also schedule payments and receive email notifications.
If you pay by check, money order, or cashier’s check, make sure it’s payable to the U.S. Treasury.
Can’t pay it all now?
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 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.