IRS Updates

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Do you have a balance and need help resolving it? There are many reasons why someone would owe the IRS a balance due amount. You may find the information below helpful in resolving your balance.

Posted: February 8, 2018, 3:51 pm

What should I do?

If you were expecting a tax refund and it hasn’t arrived, there are many reasons why it could be delayed or it hasn't been delivered.

First, check your refund status

It’s helpful to know the official status of your refund. Here’s how to find out: 

  • IRS.gov “Where’s My Refund?”
  • The IRS2Go mobile app
  • IRS toll-free Refund Hotline - 1-800-829-1954
    • Wait at least 21 days after electronically filing and six weeks after mailing your return to contact the IRS by phone.

See Locating a Refund for more details.

Once you know the status of your refund, you can narrow down what might have happened.

Has the IRS released your refund, but you haven’t received it or did you request the IRS mail you a refund check?

It’s possible that it was lost in the mail or stolen. Either way, you’ll need to report the missing refund check and have the IRS start a trace. Learn more about tracing a refund in Lost or Stolen Refunds.

Once the IRS determines the check was lost or stolen, it will let you know how to proceed.

Was your refund supposed to go directly to your bank account?

There are a few things that could have happened:

  • The bank account information you put on your tax return was incorrect.
    • The IRS isn't responsible if you made an error on your tax return. You’ll need to contact your bank or credit union to find out what to do.
    • If you already contacted your bank or credit union and didn't get any results, file IRS Form 3911, Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund with the IRS.  The IRS will contact the institution and try to help, but the IRS can't require the bank or credit union return the funds.
  • The direct deposit information was changed after reviewed and signed your tax return. 

Is the IRS holding on to your refund?

The PATH Act made the following changes, which became effective for the 2017 filing season, to help prevent revenue loss due to identity theft and refund fraud related to fabricated wages and withholdings:

  • The IRS may not issue a credit or refund to you before February 15th, if you claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) on your tax return.
  • This change only affects returns claiming EITC or ACTC filed before February 15.
  • The IRS will hold your entire refund, including any part of your refund not associated with the EITC or ACTC.
  • Neither TAS, nor the IRS, can release any part of your refund before that date, even if you're experiencing a financial hardship.

The IRS may be reviewing items on your tax return. See Held or Stopped Refunds for more information.

If you have a financial hardship and need the refund immediately, see Expediting a Refund for available options.

Your refund may have offset  – where the IRS uses your refund to pay a tax debt, or other debt such as a student loan or child support — and you haven’t been notified of that action yet.

If you believe you are entitled to all or part of the refund because your spouse is solely responsible for the debt, you may be an Injured Spouse.

Were you told that you already filed your tax return and received a refund?

You may be a victim of Identity Theft — a common scam is for someone else to use your personal information to file a tax return and steal your refund.

Did you get a refund and the amount was less than you expected?  Or when you checked the status of your refund, the automated system indicated the IRS had not received your tax return?

You may want to request a transcript of your tax account to see what happened. The IRS may have changed an amount on your tax return during processing, but for some reason you didn’t get a notice, or maybe your tax return wasn't received by the IRS. A transcript of your account will have information about the receipt and processing of your return.

Have you tried to get your refund, and now are having financial hardship?

If you've contacted the IRS and tried to get your refund, and not having the money is causing you a financial hardship, the Taxpayer Advocate Service may be able to help.

If none of these seem to fit…

If you still aren’t sure what happened with your refund, contact an IRS representative at IRS Tax Help Line for Individuals - 1-800-829-1040 (TTY/TDD 1-800-829-4059).

Posted: December 31, 2014, 4:35 pm

What should I do?

You have many options on how to fix a mistake on your tax return depending on whether you received a notice and the kind of mistake you made.

No matter what kind of mistake you made, it's important that you take action. The longer you wait, the harder and more time-consuming it is to fix a mistake. In addition, if the correction means you owe more taxes, the IRS charges interest and penalties from the due date of your tax return until you pay your account in full. So, the longer you wait to fix a mistake, the more expensive it can be.

After filing your tax return, you realize there was a mistake, but you haven’t received an IRS notice

If the due date for filing your tax return has passed, you can submit an amended tax return to correct most mistakes. You can’t electronically file an amended tax return. You must mail it to the IRS. If you realize you made a mistake but the due date for filing hasn’t passed, don't file an amended tax return. Instead, file another original tax return with your correct information.

You got an IRS notice saying there was incorrect information on your tax return

This often happens before the tax return is fully processed – the IRS is giving you a chance to make a correction. The notice should explain the issue and how to respond to the IRS. See Incorrect Returns for more information.

Note: If the change described in the IRS notice is different from what you think is incorrect, make sure you address both changes in your response.

You got an IRS notice about the IRS auditing your tax return.

The IRS performs audits by mail or in person. The notice will have specific information on how you should proceed.

The IRS made changes to your tax return, but now you have new information

If the IRS made changes to your tax return during processing, you can submit an amended tax return.

If the IRS made changes to the return because of an audit or an IRS assessment under the Substitute for Return program, you may need to request an audit reconsideration.

You didn’t file a tax return, but later realize you need to file one

Maybe you didn’t think you needed to file a tax return, but later got some new information that means you should file (like receiving a late Form 1099).

If you’re not sure if you need to file a tax return, try IRS Do I Need to File a Return tool.

If the IRS hasn’t sent you a notice about filing a tax return and you need to file one, go ahead and electronically file your tax return, (if the return is for within three years of the current tax year) or mail it to the IRS.

Note: Be sure to use the correct forms and mail it to the right IRS address for the specific tax year you need to file.

You didn’t file a tax return, and got an IRS notice stating that you needed to file

If you didn’t file a return by the due date, but IRS records show that you should have, you may get an IRS notice. You'll either need to reply to the IRS and explain why you don’t need to file or to submit your tax return.

If you don’t respond to the IRS's notice, the IRS may file a tax return for you, called a Substitute for Return. If it does file a tax return for you and you disagree with the information the IRS used, you’ll need to follow audit reconsideration steps to correct it.

You just need to change your address

There are several ways to change your address – IRS.gov's Address Changes page lists all available options.

Still not sure what to do to fix your mistake?

If you still aren’t sure what to do, you can contact the IRS. If you haven’t gotten a notice with specific contact information, you can use the following toll-free numbers:

  • Individual taxpayers: 800-829-1040 (TTY/TDD 800-829-4059)
  • Business taxpayers: 800-829-4933

Otherwise, you should use the contact information in any IRS notice sent to you.

You can resolve most mistakes on your own, but you can also get the help of a professional – either the person who prepared your tax return, or another tax professional.

Tips on how to choose a tax professional

If the mistake is causing you financial difficulties, or you’ve tried to work with the IRS and the IRS hasn’t responded, the Taxpayer Advocate Service may be able to help.

Posted: October 6, 2014, 6:27 pm

What should I do?

If you can’t pay the taxes you owe, the IRS has payment options available. Which option might work for you generally depends on how much you owe and your current financial situation. Each option has different requirements and some have fees.

The most important thing you can do is take an action

Most options for paying off a tax debt work best if you are proactive. By taking an action as soon as possible, you’ll help ease the burden and keep the IRS from acting to collect the debt. This page will offer some general information and help guide you in the right direction. 

If you need to file a tax return, you should, even if you'll owe taxes, when you file.

You should file your return on time, with or without a payment — the IRS can charge penalties for filing late. The IRS also charges daily interest on unpaid tax bills, so the longer you wait, the more interest you'll owe.

Note: If you own a business and are still "in business,” the rules for obtaining a payment arrangement are slightly different, particularly if you have employees and owe employment-related taxes. If this is your situation, you’ll need to work directly with the IRS to determine an acceptable arrangement.

First: Figure out how much you can pay

You need to consider your entire financial situation. Make a list of your assets and income, and consider other debts you might owe to figure out how much you can pay on your tax debt.

Before you enter into any kind of payment agreement, be sure you can pay that amount every month, on time.

Note: If you have another way of getting money, like borrowing from a bank or an individual, it’s worth considering. The interest rate and fees charged by a bank or credit card company are usually lower than the combination of interest and penalties imposed by the IRS.

Second: Choose the payment option that fits your situation

If you can pay the full amount now

You can pay with an electronic funds transfer or with a credit or debit card, or with a check by mailing it to the address listed on your bill or bringing it to your local IRS office.

If you can’t pay the full amount now, but can pay it within 120 days

If you can’t pay in full immediately, the IRS offers additional time (up to 120 days) to pay in full. It’s not a formal payment option, so there’s no application and no fee, but interest and any penalties continue to accrue until the tax debt is paid in full.

For information on the additional time up to 120 days, call the IRS toll-free at 1-800-829-1040 (individuals) or 1-800-829-4933 (businesses).

If you need to make monthly payments to pay off your debt

You can ask for an Installment Agreement, which is a fixed monthly payment. This is a formal agreement with the IRS, and involves an application process and fees.

You won’t be able to pay off the full debt

An Offer in Compromise allows you to pay less than the full amount you owe. 

For the IRS to consider an Offer in Compromise, you must apply, and must generally pay certain fees and a portion of the debt. You must then file tax returns and make payments on time for five years after the IRS accepts your offer.

If you can’t make any sort of payment now

The IRS understands there may be times when you can’t pay a tax debt due to your current financial situation. If the IRS agrees that you can’t pay your taxes and pay your reasonable living expenses, it may place your account in a status called Currently Not Collectible. The IRS won't try to collect payment from you while your account is in Currently Not Collectible status, but the debt doesn't not go away, and penalties and interest continue to grow.

Posted: October 6, 2014, 6:25 pm

What should I do?

The IRS will send a notice or a letter for any number of reasons. It may be about a specific issue on your federal tax return or account, or may tell you about changes to your account, ask you for more information, or request a payment.

You can handle most of this correspondence without calling or visiting an IRS office if you follow the instructions in the document.

Before you proceed, check where the notice came from

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.

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.

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 - it won’t have information about your IRS account or where the money is being sent.

Understanding your Notice

IRS notices and letters are numbered and provide contact information for questions. Both are usually shown in the upper right corner. (If you can't find the number, or have lost your notice, there are general numbers you can call.)

Each notice normally tells you:

  • What the IRS is changing on your return or account, or needs more information about
  • Why the IRS is making a change or needs that information
  • Where to send your reply and by when (if a reply is needed)

There are a few main categories for notices:

Informational notices

Claiming certain tax credits and other interactions with the IRS may lead the IRS to send you a notice. Most of the time, they are just for your records and you don’t need to reply.

Notices about changes to your tax return or account

The IRS may have already made a change, or be looking at your return to see if there was a mistake. The notice will have instructions on if or how you need to reply.

Some common notices of a change:

Notices where the IRS says you owe taxes

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 other way to pay off your balance.

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

What if I want to talk to someone about the notice?

Each notice should include contact information. Some phone numbers on letters or notices are general IRS toll-free numbers, but if a specific employee is working your case, it will show a specific phone number to reach that employee or the department manager.

If you've lost your notice

If you’ve lost your notice, call one of the following toll-free numbers for help:

  • Individual taxpayers: 800-829-1040 (TTY/TDD 1-800-829-4059)
  • Business taxpayers: 800-829-4933

What if I want to ask for a tax professional’s help to reply to a notice or letter?

You can resolve most notices without help, but you can also get the help of a professional – either the person who prepared your return, or another tax professional.

Tips on how to choose a tax professional

Do you feel that you need help from a tax professional but can’t afford one? You may be eligible for representation from an attorney, CPA, or enrolled agent associated with a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.

Posted: April 23, 2014, 8:28 pm

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