What to Do if IRS Makes a Mistake

Dealing with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can be a complex and sometimes frustrating process. While the IRS is generally diligent and accurate in their tax assessments, mistakes can happen. If you find yourself in a situation where the IRS has made an error on your tax return or in their calculations, it is important to take immediate action. Here are some steps you can take if you believe the IRS has made a mistake:

1. Review the notice: Carefully read any correspondence you receive from the IRS. It could be a simple error that can be resolved by providing additional information or clarification.

2. Gather supporting documents: Collect all relevant documents such as tax returns, receipts, and any other evidence that supports your claim. This will help you build a strong case to dispute the IRS mistake.

3. Contact the IRS: If you believe the IRS has made an error, it is essential to contact them promptly. You can call the phone number provided in the notice or visit your local IRS office in person. Be prepared to provide detailed information and any supporting documents you have gathered.

4. Request an amendment: If the IRS made an error on your tax return, you can file an amended return using Form 1040X. This form allows you to correct any mistakes or provide additional information that may have been overlooked.

5. Consult a tax professional: If the issue is complex or you are unsure about how to proceed, it may be wise to seek guidance from a tax professional. They can review your case, advise you on the best course of action, and represent you in your dealings with the IRS.

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6. File an appeal: If you disagree with the IRS’s decision regarding the mistake, you have the right to appeal. This involves submitting a written request to the IRS explaining your disagreement and providing supporting evidence.

7. Keep detailed records: Throughout the process, it is crucial to maintain meticulous records of all your interactions with the IRS. Keep copies of all correspondence, documentation, and notes from phone conversations. These records will be vital if you need to escalate your case or seek further assistance.

8. Be patient: Resolving a mistake made by the IRS can take time, so it is important to remain patient throughout the process. Follow up with the IRS periodically, but avoid being overly aggressive or confrontational, as this may hinder the resolution.


1. How long do I have to dispute an IRS mistake?
You generally have three years from the date you filed your tax return or two years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later, to dispute an IRS mistake.

2. Can I request a refund for penalties and interest caused by the IRS mistake?
Yes, if the IRS admits the mistake was their fault, you may be eligible for a refund of any penalties and interest incurred.

3. Can I dispute an IRS mistake online?
Yes, the IRS offers online tools and resources to help you dispute mistakes, such as the “Where’s My Amended Return?” tool.

4. What if the IRS does not respond to my dispute?
If the IRS does not respond to your dispute within a reasonable timeframe, you can escalate the issue by contacting the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent organization within the IRS that assists taxpayers.

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5. Can I sue the IRS for their mistake?
While it is possible to sue the IRS in certain circumstances, such as for negligence or intentional misconduct, it is generally a last resort. It is recommended to exhaust all other options before considering legal action.

6. Will disputing an IRS mistake extend the deadline for paying taxes owed?
No, disputing an IRS mistake does not extend the deadline for paying your taxes. It is important to continue making payments according to the original deadline to avoid penalties and interest.

7. Can I claim damages for the stress caused by an IRS mistake?
Generally, you cannot claim damages for emotional distress caused by an IRS mistake. However, you may be eligible for reimbursement of any costs directly related to resolving the error.

8. Can I negotiate a settlement with the IRS for their mistake?
In some cases, you may be able to negotiate a settlement or payment plan with the IRS to resolve the issue. This will depend on the specific circumstances and the IRS’s willingness to cooperate.

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