What to Do if the IRS Makes a Mistake

Dealing with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can be a daunting task, especially when you receive notice of a mistake made by the agency. While the IRS is generally efficient in its operations, errors can still occur. It is essential to know how to handle such situations to ensure that you are not penalized or wrongly held responsible for the mistake. Here are some steps to take if the IRS makes a mistake:

1. Review the Notice: Carefully read through any notice or correspondence you receive from the IRS. Understand the issue at hand, the specific mistake made, and the potential consequences. The notice will usually provide instructions on what to do next.

2. Gather Documentation: Collect all relevant documents, including tax returns, receipts, and any other supporting evidence. Having this information readily available will help you in resolving the issue more efficiently.

3. Contact the IRS: Reach out to the IRS using the contact information provided in the notice. It is advisable to contact them via phone, as waiting for a response through traditional mail may prolong the process. Be prepared with your documentation and any questions you may have.

4. Explain the Error: Clearly and concisely explain the mistake made by the IRS and provide any evidence that supports your case. Remain polite and professional throughout the conversation, as it may help in resolving the issue more amicably.

5. Request Correction: Ask the IRS to correct the mistake promptly. Provide any necessary documentation to support your claim. If possible, request a confirmation in writing once the correction has been made.

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6. Follow Up: If the IRS does not respond or correct the mistake within a reasonable timeframe, it is crucial to follow up. Contact the IRS again and inquire about the status of your case. Persistence can be key in getting the issue resolved.

7. Seek Professional Help: If you are unable to resolve the issue on your own or if it becomes more complex, consider seeking assistance from a tax professional. They can provide guidance, represent you before the IRS, and help navigate the process.

8. Appeal if Necessary: If the mistake made by the IRS is not resolved to your satisfaction, you have the right to appeal their decision. The notice you received will provide instructions on how to file an appeal and the timeframe within which it must be done.


1. Can the IRS make mistakes on tax returns?
Yes, the IRS is not immune to errors. Mistakes can occur in various aspects, such as calculations, credit eligibility, or identification.

2. How long does it take for the IRS to correct their mistake?
The timeframe for correction can vary depending on the complexity of the mistake and the responsiveness of the IRS. It may take several weeks to months to resolve the issue.

3. Can I be penalized for the IRS’s mistake?
No, you should not be penalized for a mistake made by the IRS. However, it is crucial to address the issue promptly to avoid any potential penalties.

4. Do I need to hire a tax professional to handle the IRS mistake?
While it is not necessary, hiring a tax professional can be beneficial, especially if the mistake is complex or if you are unable to resolve it on your own.

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5. What if the mistake results in a tax refund?
If the IRS’s mistake leads to a larger refund, they will issue the additional amount owed to you. Ensure that your bank account information is up to date to receive the refund electronically.

6. Can I sue the IRS for their mistake?
In certain circumstances, you may be able to sue the IRS for damages resulting from their mistake. Consult with a tax attorney to understand the viability of such a lawsuit.

7. Can I request compensation for the time and effort spent resolving the IRS mistake?
Unfortunately, the IRS does not provide compensation for the time and effort spent on resolving their mistakes.

8. Should I contact my tax representative if the IRS makes a mistake?
Yes, it is advisable to reach out to your tax representative, such as a certified public accountant (CPA) or enrolled agent (EA), for guidance and assistance in dealing with the IRS’s mistake.

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