What happens when the IRS makes an error on your taxes?


Every year, millions of Americans spend money to have their taxes done by an expert so that no mistakes are made, but what happens when the IRS makes an error?

In this article, we’ll talk about some steps you can take when the IRS makes a mistake on your taxes.

What to do when the IRS makes an error on your taxes

The IRS, like any other organization, is prone to goofing up every now and then. In fact, the agency has a data book that shows how many math errors it makes in a given tax year.

We’ve told you about the provision for taxpayers who can’t pay their tax bills in full. But many people may not be aware that they have certain protections when it comes to dealing with the IRS. The agency publishes a Taxpayer Bill of Rights, and it stipulates that you have:

  • The right to be informed
  • The right to quality service
  • The right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax
  • The right to challenge the agency’s position and be heard
  • The right to appeal an IRS decision in an independent forum
  • The right to finality
  • The right to privacy
  • The right to confidentiality
  • The right to retain representation
  • The right to a fair and just tax system

If you suspect that the IRS has made a mistake in tabulating your taxes, here’s what you should do:

3 steps to take if you think the IRS has make a mistake on your taxes

1. Have your documentation handy

If you feel that the IRS assessment of what your tax liability should be is in error, compile your paperwork to prove it. Once you have the sufficient documentation that you feel reasonably proves your case, here’s what you should do…

2. Contact the IRS office that sent you the tax notice

You can write them or call the number listed on the notice or bill. It’s important that you do this within the time frame stated on the notice. To make the process as easy as possible, it’s best to provide photocopies of any records in question.

3. Be prepared to negotiate

If you can’t get the IRS to budge, you may want to talk settlement. If the amount in dispute is large enough, you may want to hire a tax professional to negotiate for you since they have more experience dealing with the IRS.

Here’s what to do if you think you’ve made a mistake on your taxes

Now let’s talk about something else: a tax-filing error on your end.

If you spot a mistake after you’ve filed your tax return: Any mistake or change in filing status, income, deductions or credits will likely change your tax bill. Because of this, the IRS wants you to file an amended tax return.


In many cases, though, the agency may automatically correct math errors and even accept certain returns without the asked-for forms and schedules. In those cases, you wouldn’t need to file an adjustment unless you disagree with the IRS. You’ll typically have 60 days to do so.

If you believe you’ve overpaid your tax bill: From time to time, taxpayers may pay more than what they owe in taxes. The IRS makes a provision for this by allowing you to file a tax adjustment (form 1040X). Generally, you can file a claim for a credit or refund within three years of the date you filed your original return.

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