CP59 Notice: You Didn’t File a Form 1040 Tax Return

A CP59 notice says that you did not file your federal tax return. Whether the IRS lost your tax return, you don’t think you need to file, you can’t pay your taxes, or you just forgot, it’s important to take action ASAP.

This post is provided for general information only. Please confirm the details and circumstances of your unique situation with your tax accountant or other appropriate advisor before taking action.

Why did you receive a CP59 Notice?

The only reason you will receive this tax notice is that the Internal Revenue Service does not have a record of your tax return. This could be for a number of reasons:

  • You never filed.
  • You filed late and the IRS hadn’t received your return by the time it mailed the notice.
  • Your return was lost in the mail.
  • There was a problem matching your name or Social Security Number causing the IRS to not recognize that you filed. This could be a simple typo or data entry error.
  • Your tax return was rejected because of a filing error or not having a signature. You should have received another notice stating this, but you may have missed it.

View an example of this notice on the IRS website.

CP59 Notice When You Filed Your Tax Return

There are a few reasons why a taxpayer may get this notice in error.

Your income tax return got lost in the mail.

If your individual tax return got lost in the mail, it’s not actually an error to get a CP59 notice. However, the fact that you tried to meet your filing requirement on time can give you good cause to waive interest and penalties.

If you filed a tax return, complete the Form 15103, Form 1040 Return Delinquency that comes with your CP59 notice. Say that you already filed your tax return and include a copy of your tax return. If you have proof of filing, such as an electronic receipt or mail tracking info, it’s a good idea to include a copy of that as well.

Don’t just file a new tax return. If you just refile your tax return without including an explanation on the response form, the IRS won’t know that you submitted your return on time.

COVID-19 mail backlogs delayed your tax return.

The IRS has had serious problems with its mail processing operations during COVID 19. Millions of taxpayers have had their refunds delayed because their tax returns are still sitting unopened in a box of mail.

The IRS was supposed to stop erroneous notices to taxpayers in this situation, but that didn’t happen because they can’t actually track unopened returns they got by mail. Once they finally open your return and tax payment, they will credit it to your account as of the postmark date.

If you were charged interest and penalties because you made your tax payment by check, the IRS should automatically reverse them if you mailed your check by the due date. Check your account to make sure this actually happens.

CP59 Notice When You Don’t Have to File a Tax Return

If you don’t believe you were required to file, you can respond to the notice explaining why. Use the enclosed Form 15103.

A common situation is where your income is near the minimum income that requires you to file. The IRS may have received a W-2 or 1099 showing income above the filing threshold without realizing you had deductions that took you below it.

CP59 Notice When You Can’t Pay Your Taxes

When you can’t pay your taxes, you should still file a tax return. There are separate penalties for filing late and paying late. The penalties for paying late start when your tax return was due not when you file it.

Not filing your tax return because you can’t pay only costs you more money. If you’re unable to pay today, the IRS offers payment plans.

CP59 Notice After You Requested an Extension

If you requested an extension of time to file, explain this on the Form 15103 that came with your notice. Include any documentation you have like the online confirmation or mailing info.

As long as you originally submitted the extension on time, you’ll generally be OK waiting to file your tax return. If you didn’t request an extension by the original due date of your tax return, it’s too late to request an extension for that year.

What should I do if I need to file?

You should file your tax return as soon as possible. You can use these free tax filing options.

Failing to file penalties accrue until you file. Interest and failing to pay penalties will accrue until you pay the balance shown on your return.

What if I’m owed a refund?

In many cases, you may be owed a refund even if you didn’t file your return. This is common if your employer withheld taxes from your wages. If your employer sent withholdings to the IRS, that might be what triggered your notice.

You can only claim your refund by filing your return. There are no failing to file or pay penalties if you’re owed a refund, because they’re based on the amount you owe. However, you can’t receive your refund unless you file your return within three years of the original due date.

What should I do if I don’t have the information I need to file?

You can usually see what was reported on your W-2s and 1099s by requesting your tax transcript on the IRS website. If you don’t have ready proof of your deductions, your tax accountant may be able to help you find another way of supporting them.

What should I do if I receive additional notices?

The CP59 notice is considered a friendly notice because it’s just a reminder to file your taxes. The IRS will charge you the late filing and late payment penalties that apply, but that’s all that will happen. It’s only when you continue to ignore the friendly reminder that the IRS might take more serious action.

If you continue to receive incorrect notices, call the IRS. Sometimes, automatic notices go out between when you file your tax return or respond to the IRS. Other times, there may be a problem where the IRS still doesn’t have your tax form.

Pay close attention to whether any additional notices still say that you didn’t file your personal tax return or whether they’re saying that there’s some other problem with your return. If the IRS selected you for an audit or said you underpaid once it got your return, you may need to get help from a tax attorney or CPA.

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Leave a Comment

All comments are public and may be posted with or without edits. Don't include any sensitive information. This is not the IRS — I did not send you a letter or hold your refund.

3 thoughts on “CP59 Notice: You Didn’t File a Form 1040 Tax Return”

    • If you call the IRS, they may be able to tell you if there’s another reason that you were required to file a tax return or they believe your income is actually taxable. If you disagree with or don’t understand their explanation, you may qualify for assistance through the Taxpayer Advocate Service.

  1. I am in social security Disability, [redacted] in 2018 and Office of personnel management retirement operations (disability) [redacted] in 2018.I was told don’t have taxable income by employed # [redacted].

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