FAQ about the IRS Notice of Deficiency

What is an IRS Notice of Deficiency?
A Notice of Deficiency is a formal letter from the IRS informing a taxpayer of a tax deficiency and advising them of their appeal rights with the United States Tax Court. It is required by law and is sent by registered or certified mail to the taxpayer’s last known address. Although a Notice of Deficiency can be issued when no tax return has been filed, it is most often sent when the tax amount shown on a submitted return is less than the actual amount owed according to IRS calculations.

What information is provided by an IRS Notice of Deficiency?
A Notice of Deficiency must include an explanation for the deficiency together with a statement of the tax, interest and penalties that have been assessed. The notice should also include the final date on which the taxpayer can file a petition with the United States Tax Court appealing the assessment. However, it should be noted that failure by the IRS to specify the last day on which to file a petition will not invalidate an otherwise valid deficiency notice if the taxpayer was not prejudiced by the omission.

How does a taxpayer respond to a Notice of Deficiency?
Within 90 days after a Notice of Deficiency is mailed (or within 150 days after mailing if the notice is addressed to a person outside the United States) the taxpayer must pay the assessed amount or file a petition with the Tax Court to contest the liability. Payment of the assessed amount after the deficiency notice is mailed does not deprive the Tax Court of jurisdiction over the deficiency. In addition, discussion of the case with the IRS during the 90 day period does not extend the time period during which a petition can be filed.

What are the consequences if a response is not submitted in a timely manner?
If the taxpayer does not file a Tax Court petition within the required time period, the appeal process is closed and IRS has the authority to collect the tax. Since the Tax Court is the only court that will hear the question of whether a tax liability is really owed, the taxpayer’s only option after the 90 day deadline has passed is to pay the assessed amount in full and then apply for a refund. If a response is not received within 90 days after the issuance of a Notice of Deficiency, the IRS is likely to issue a Notice to Levy. The Notice to Levy allows a 30 day response time, after which a taxpayer’s property may be seized to enforce collection if the assessed tax still has not been paid. The requirement to issue the Notice to Levy and wait 30 days does not apply if the IRS finds that the collection of tax is in jeopardy.

What are the advantages of obtaining the services of an experienced tax professional?
The IRS is authorized to collect taxes and issuing a Notice of Deficiency is the first step in the collection process. Receiving such a notice can be both intimidating and confusing and may make enlisting the help of a qualified tax professional a worthwhile investment. Collection of taxes by the IRS is permitted without proof of the debt so the burden rests with the taxpayer to determine whether the tax amount shown on the Notice of Deficiency is actually owed. Because of the complexities of tax law, accurately making this determination may require someone with both expert knowledge and experience. In addition, obtaining the help of a tax professional will ensure that the response to such a notice meets the IRS requirements and is submitted correctly, thus avoiding unpleasant consequences down the road.

If you have received a letter from the IRS such as a Notice of Deficiency or Notice to Levy or are threatened with a tax lien or wage garnishment, we can help stop the immediate collection action and help you work toward resolving your tax debt. Contact us today at (949) 596-4143 or info@protaxres.com to receive a free, no obligation consultation.