What to Do if You Get an IRS Notice

Updated for Tax Year 2021 • May 5, 2022 10:58 AM


There are several things you can do if you receive a notice. Calm down and read it carefully. Not all IRS notices relate to tax audits.

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Getting a notice from the IRS can be upsetting. You've filed your taxes and would like to close that chapter, at least for a year. There are several things you can do if you receive a notice. Calm down and read it carefully. Not all IRS notices relate to tax audits.

About the notice

The notice or letter states the reason it was sent, its purpose, and instructions on how to respond. Normally there is a specific issue related to your account or tax return. The notice could be to inform you of additional tax you owe, that your refund is larger than originally reported, or to request additional information about your tax return.

On the upper right hand corner is a notice number. This number also prints on the lower left hand side of the tear-off stub included with the notice or letter. The IRS website has a table explaining each type of notice by number (see Resources). Match your letter's number with the number in the table to get more information. Though the contents may vary slightly based on the individual case, notices with the same number have the same basic purpose.

What to do

You generally have 30 days to respond to an IRS notice, so there's no reason to ignore it. Always check which tax year the notice relates to. Do not assume that it relates to your most recent tax return.

Follow the instructions. It may request more information or ask a specific question. If it's a minor issue and you are confident of the facts, you can respond to the notice yourself. But sometimes, you may need to seek help from a tax professional. The IRS says in its article "Eight Things to Know if You Receive an IRS Notice" that "most correspondence can be handled without calling or visiting an IRS office."

If you filed the tax return with TurboTax, you can take advantage of our free audit support options. Our Audit Support Center walks you step-by-step through responding to an IRS notice.

If you agree with the correction notice

If you make a mistake on your tax return, you may receive a correction notice or an unreported income notice. Compare the IRS adjustments with the information on your tax return. If you agree with the adjustments, you can generally reply to the IRS with a check or money order for the additional taxes due. Write the reference number on the check and send it with the voucher the IRS provides with your notice.

If you do not agree with the correction notice

If you do not agree with the notice, then respond as soon as possible with a written explanation. Explain your reasons for disagreeing and enclose copies of all relevant documents. Mail it to the address on the top left corner, along with the tear-off stub for reference. Start a new folder and keep all correspondence in one place (including copies of your responses to the IRS) for ease of reference. Allow at least one month for the response.

The important thing is to respond—ignoring notices will get you nowhere and could result in additional penalties down the line.

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