CP09 Notice: Possible Unclaimed Earned Income Credit Refund

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IRS Notice CP09 notifies you that you may be entitled to claim a refundable Earned Income Tax Credit on your previously filed tax return. You’ll need to fill out the worksheet enclosed with the notice to verify your eligibility.

Is the IRS really trying to give me money?

Yes. The IRS’s job is to ensure that every taxpayer files their income taxes accurately. The Earned Income Credit is part of the tax code, so the IRS wants to make sure you claim it if you’re eligible.

If you paid your taxes in full without taking the EITC, you paid too much and can get a refund check.

Did I do something wrong on my tax return?

A Notice CP09 will almost never lead to penalties unless there was something else wrong on your return. You didn’t do anything wrong in the sense that you need to worry about what the IRS will do.

But you may have paid too much and be entitled to a bigger tax refund.

You may want to ask your tax preparer how they missed this common credit or get help next year if you prepared your taxes yourself.

How do I respond to Notice CP09 using Form 15111?

The IRS includes a Form 15111 Earned Income Credit Worksheet with each CP09 notice. You can view a sample Form 15111 worksheet on the IRS website. Sometimes, the same worksheet may be included as part of your CP09 notice and not have the Form 15111 header on it.

All you need to do with your worksheet is check the boxes and provide information about your dependents, if any. The IRS will take care of the math for you.

Some of the questions in Step 1 of the worksheet can be tricky. For example, it asks if you had a principal place of abode in the United States for 6 months or less. The keywords are “or less.” If you lived in the United States for longer, you don’t check this box.

If you find any of the questions confusing, review the requirements for the Earned Income Tax Credit (below). If you qualify, you shouldn’t be checking any boxes in Step 1.

You do not need to file an amended return unless you discovered another mistake.

If you’re not sure whether you received a real IRS notice, check that the address it says to return it to is listed on the IRS website.

Am I guaranteed to get the Earned Income Credit?

The IRS sends a notice asking for more information instead of just giving you a refund for a reason. Whether you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit will depend on your entire filing situation. What the IRS is saying is that based on the information it has, you may qualify for the credit.

In order to qualify, you must meet the following eligibility rules.

  • Have a valid Social Security Number.
  • If you’re married or have children, your spouse and children must have valid Social Security Numbers.
  • Have earned income. Earned income includes wages, salaries, tips, business income, side gig income, and union strike benefits. Earned income does not include Social Security benefits, unemployment benefits, investment income, or alimony.
  • Have less than $10,000 of investment income for the tax year. This includes things like income from stock dividends and capital gains.
  • Have an Adjusted Gross Income under the limit. The maximum income level depends on your filing status and number of dependents.

You can use this IRS tool to determine if you qualify

What is the unemployment exclusion?

If your AGI is too high, you won’t qualify for the Earned Income Credit. However, the unemployment income exclusion says that unemployment income doesn’t count towards your AGI when you’re determining whether you’re eligible for the credit.

In 2021, the maximum income to be eligible for the credit if you’re single filing status with no dependents is $21,430. If your income is $22,000, you don’t qualify.

But, if $1,000 of that $22,000 was from unemployment, it’s excluded, and your income for determining your credit is actually $21,000. That’s under the limit, so you can qualify for a credit.

Is retirement income investment income?

Retirement income and investment income are different types of income. A retirement account distribution does not count as investment income. Neither does having investment gains or dividends inside of a retirement account. Investment income means income from taxable investment accounts. 

How long do I have to respond?

There is no deadline to respond to a CP09 notice. The IRS says to not respond if you determine you weren’t eligible to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit.

If you did miss taking the credit, you have up until the usual time to file an amended return. That’s generally within three years of the original return due date.

How long does it take to get my refund?

It typically takes about 6-8 weeks for the IRS to verify your worksheet and send your check. During COVID-19, the IRS has had major mail processing and staffing problems and has been taking months to issue some refunds.

How do I check the status of my CP09?

There is no way to track the status of your CP09 online. The IRS responds by mail. If you haven’t received a response after eight weeks, you can call the IRS to check the status.

Can I handle this on my own?

When the IRS is trying to give you money and isn’t even making you do the math, it’s usually a safe bet to say that you can respond on your own. However, if you have questions or you’re concerned you might have missed other deductions or credits, you might want to talk to a tax professional.

20 thoughts on “CP09 Notice: Possible Unclaimed Earned Income Credit Refund”

    • I’m still hearing of things taking this long, but it is long enough that you do want to call the IRS to check on things.

    • I have not heard or received any letter from the IRS. I have called a few through the months myself because i completed mine in March 2022 and i still yet to hear or get a mail. I have called a times but some Call center rep can not take your information down and give you another number that just hungs up on you. I have tried over and over to see about my EIC but nothing to this day. 11/11/2022.

  1. I mailed my letter out in May, it’s July and I still haven’t spoken to nor received a response from the IRS. So my questions are: Will I receive a paper check, even though I filed direct deposit? When and how will I receive the funds? And how can I contact the IRS, if they never answer my call?.

    • The IRS is still taking longer than the usual timelines to respond to most things. You can check your IRS account online to see if they’ve posted the additional refund.

      • The website won’t allow you to look up what or when to get back on EIC, I too send mine back in May. Good Luck everyone

        • While you can’t look up the notice status directly, you can check your account record to see if the IRS has made any changes to your refund or balance due. Two months to hear back is also at the upper end of their normal processing times, and they’re still not back to normal processing times.

    • Over 14 weeks here and that phone number is a waste of 3 min. No one is ever there it tells you they can’t handle your call call another day.

  2. 11 weeks now still haven’t receive anything in the mail. there’s no one answering calls.it says its busy.is there any way to contact them? aside from (800) 829-0922 number

  3. Hello. I received a CP09 letter with IRS form 15111. In Step 1, the first “check box” asks if I “…had a principal place of abode..in US for 6 months or less…” in 2020. Checking this box – affirming, “yes, I had a principal place of abode” automatically makes me NOT eligible. Under what circumstances could I NOT CHECK this box? Thank you. BL

    • This may apply, but I’m really not sure of your exact situation. If you’re not sure if you meet the requirements, you can call the IRS or find a tax professional in your area.

      To claim the EITC, you and your spouse (if filing jointly) must be U.S. citizens or resident aliens.

      If you or your spouse were a nonresident alien for any part of the tax year, you can only claim the EITC if your filing status is married filing jointly and you or your spouse is a:

      U.S. Citizen with a valid Social Security number or
      Resident alien who was in the U.S. at least 6 months of the year you’re filing for and has a valid Social Security number

      You are eligible to claim the EITC without a qualifying child if you meet all the following rules. You (and your spouse if you file a joint tax return) must:

      Meet the EITC basic qualifying rules
      Have your main home in the United States for more than half the tax year
      The United States includes the 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. military bases. It does not include U.S. possessions such as Guam, the Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico
      Not be claimed as a qualifying child on anyone else’s tax return
      Be at least age 18 at the end of the tax year (usually Dec. 31)
      The minimum age to claim the EIC is generally age 19; however, if you are a qualified former foster youth or a qualified homeless youth, you need to be at least age 18.
      If you are a specified student (other than a qualified former foster youth or a qualified homeless youth), you need to be at least age 24.


    • You can try going to the IRS website to Get Your Tax Record, and get a transcript from that year to see if they posted a refund and when. Otherwise, you’re going to have to call them to see if they got your response and what your status is.

    • did u ever receive anything back? if so was it direct deposit or a paper check? i called yesterday they told me they are still backed up.


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