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Taxpayer Calls IRS to Discuss Collection Alternatives

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Notice Overview

Taxpayer receives a notice or letter from the IRS and either chooses to respond to the notice or letter by paying their tax balance in full and/or filing missing tax returns; or pursuing a payment option; or the taxpayer chooses not to respond.

  • For example, taxpayer responded to Notice CP501, 1st Notice — Balance Due, and pays the balance due via electronic payment options on IRS.gov/Pay Your Tax Bill or via check or money order payable to the United States Treasury.
  • For example, the taxpayer chooses not to respond to the notice or letter, so the IRS may send further taxpayer collection notices to the taxpayer requesting payment for the tax balance owing and/or filing of missing tax returns. The IRS may also file a Notice of Federal Tax Lien or issue a levy.

What does this letter or notice mean to me?

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

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 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.

If your notice indicates you have missing tax returns, file the missing returns as soon as possible. See Filing Your Taxes for more information on how to file your return.

For specifics on your particular notice, visit Understanding your IRS Notice or Letter.

How did I get here?

You missed filing your tax return, or you filed your return without paying the balance due, or the IRS determined that your return had a further balance due and that balance has not been paid yet. As a result, you have a balance on your tax account. This notice is being sent to you to let you know how much you owe, when it is due, and how to pay and/or that you need to file your missing tax returns.

What are my next steps?

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

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Is it from the IRS?

If it’s from the IRS, the notice will have instructions on how to respond. If you want more details about your tax account, you can order a transcript. Also, review your notice or letter to see if there is a specific website link to visit for additional information. This is usually located at the end of the notice or letter.


If it’s from another agency, such as a state tax department, you’ll need to call that office for an explanation.

If the letter is from the Department of the Treasury Bureau of the Fiscal Service, these notices are often sent when the IRS takes (offsets) some or part of your tax refund to cover another, non-IRS debt. The Bureau of the Fiscal Service only facilitates the transfers of the refund between IRS and the agency that the balance is owed to — it won’t have information about your IRS account or where the money is being sent.

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If you disagree

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 can’t pay the full amount by the due 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. For specifics, see I got a notice from the IRS.

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

Where can I get additional help?

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Your options

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.

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Taxpayer Calls IRS to Discuss Collection Alternatives