IRS Notices and Letters

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Get a notice or letter in the mail from the IRS? Match its number to the list of IRS notices and letters below and follow the link for more information. Or use the search box on the right side of this page.

How to Understand Your IRS Notice or Letter

  • Notices are in the format CP####. The number is located in the top right corner of the document.
  • Letters are in the format Letter ### or LTR ###. The number is located in either the top or bottom right corner of the document.

Verifying IRS Notices and Letters

IRS notices come on official IRS letterhead and follow a standard format. The good news is that most fakes don’t successfully duplicate the appearance of a real IRS notice.

You can verify a notice by calling the IRS at the phone number listed on their website that applies to your filing type. Don’t call the number on the notice unless you confirmed on the IRS website that it actually belongs to the IRS.

The IRS always sends notices by mail not by email. The IRS will also never call you if they haven’t sent you mail first.

How to Find Out What IRS Notices and Letters Mean

Each IRS notice has a title and should contain a summary of the problem identified. Read through the notice once to see if you understand it.

There is also an identifier in the top corner of the notice that is either “CP” followed by a number or “Letter” followed by a number. Examples: CP2000 or Letter 531. The IRS has a standard form letter for each type of tax problem. This identifier allows your tax professional to quickly identify the issue at hand and your options for resolving it. If you’d like to do more research on your own, this is the identifier you should search for online.

Additional Information to Look for in IRS Notices and Letters

There are a few more things to look for at the top of your notice.

  • Tax Year: This is the year in question. The IRS can go back three years in normal circumstances and sometimes longer. The year is the year the tax return covered not when it was filed. (E.g., your tax return you filed in April 2018 for calendar year 2017 is for Tax Year 2017).
  • Notice Date: This is the date the clock starts running if you have X days to respond. If you were out of town or didn’t receive the notice on time, immediately call either your tax professional or the IRS directly.
  • Social Security Number: Double check this to verify that the notice was intended for you. This is especially important if you have a family member with a similar name.

If the IRS is claiming that you owe money, it will show the tax owed, the penalty due, and the interest owed on those amounts. If you don’t pay by the due date listed, penalties and interest may keep increasing. You have the right to dispute these amounts if you disagree.

The IRS may also include a more detailed explanation of why they are claiming you owe money. This may reference specific line items on your tax return as well as W-2s, 1099s, or other documents the IRS received from third parties.

What to Do Next

If you fully understand the notice, have checked your records to verify the IRS is right, and the penalties are small, you may wish to agree to the changes and pay the amount owed. If you don’t understand the notice, aren’t sure how the IRS got its numbers, or are facing a large penalty, contact a tax professional to review your options.

List of IRS Notices

  • 1444, 1444-A, 1444-B: Information about your COVID-19 Economic Impact Payment.
  • CP09: You may be eligible for the Earned Income Credit but didn’t claim it
  • CP10: Changes to your return that reduced the amount applied to next year’s estimated taxes.
  • CP10A: Changes to your Earned Income Credit that reduced the amount applied to next year’s estimated taxes.
  • CP11: Changes to your return that result in a balance due.
  • CP11A: Changes to your Earned Income Credit that result in a balance due.
  • CP12: Changes to your return resulting in a change in your refund.
  • CP13: Changes to your return that do not change what you owe.
  • CP13A: Changes to your Earned Income Credit that do not change what you owe.
  • CP14, CP14H, CP14I: You owe money on unpaid taxes, penalties, and/or interest.
  • CP16: Changes to your tax return that resulted in a refund that will be applied towards other tax debts.
  • CP21A-I: The IRS made changes to your tax return that you requested or after an audit.
  • CP22A-I: The IRS made changes to your tax return that you requested or after an audit.
  • CP23: You reported more estimated taxes than you actually paid and owe money.
  • CP32A: Call the IRS to request your refund check.
  • CP45: The IRS could not apply your overpayment to your estimated tax as requested.
  • CP49: Your refund was applied to a tax debt from a different year.
  • CP54B: You must provide additional information to receive your refund because your tax return shows a different name or tax identification number than the IRS has for your account.
  • CP54E: You must provide additional information because your tax return shows a different name or tax identification number than the IRS has for your account. The IRS can’t process your estimated tax payments until you do.
  • CP54G: You must provide additional information because your tax return shows a different name or tax identification number than the IRS has for your account.
  • CP54Q: The IRS previously sent you one of the above CP54_ notices and you haven’t responded.
  • CP59: First notice that you did not file a tax return.
  • CP75: The IRS is auditing your Earned Income Tax Credit claim and is holding the portion of your return related to the Earned Income Tax Credit, Additional Child Tax Credit, and Premium Tax Credit until you respond.
  • CP75A: The IRS is auditing your tax return and needs support for your Earned Income Tax Credit claim.
  • CP79: You must prove your eligibility before you can take certain tax credits in the future.
  • CP79A: You are banned from claiming certain credits for two years.
  • CP90: The IRS intends to levy your assets for unpaid taxes.
  • CP91: The IRS intends to levy up to 15% of your Social Security benefits for unpaid taxes.
  • CP161: You have an unpaid balance due.
  • CP297: The IRS intends to levy your assets for unpaid taxes.
  • CP298: The IRS intends to levy up to 15% of your Social Security benefits for unpaid taxes.
  • CP501: You have an unpaid balance due (reminder).
  • CP504: You have an unpaid balance due, and the IRS intends to levy your property if you don’t pay immediately.
  • CP523: You defaulted on your installment agreement, and the IRS intends to levy your assets.
  • CP2000: The information on your tax return doesn’t match the information the IRS received from 3rd parties.

List of IRS Letters

  • Letter 11: Final notice that the IRS intends to levy your assets and your rights to a hearing.
  • Letter 12C: The IRS needs more information before it can process your tax return.
  • Letter 525: Proposed adjustments to your tax return after an examination/audit.
  • Letter 531: The IRS has adjusted your return, and you owe additional tax unless you appeal to the Tax Court.
  • Letter 692: Request for Consideration of Additional Findings: Letter 692 is the IRS’s initial decision in an audit or examination. It’s based on the information the IRS already has and any information you provided during the audit or examination.

Need personal help? Click here for additional free resources or to find an accountant, attorney, or other professional near youRemember: This blog post and the comments provide generalized information that may be out of date or inaccurate for your situation. Always schedule a personal consultation with an appropriate licensed professional in your area before taking action. For full terms of use, click here.

Have general questions about this post or want to learn more about a related topic? Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Comments are public, and I can’t provide individual advice, but it helps me make the posts more useful for the future. Please do not post personal information. If you need personal assistance, please contact the relevant government agency or hire an appropriate professional near you.

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