How can I get more response time for a CP12 letter? 

August 04, 2022 by Jean Lee Scherkey, EA
Man looking at a letter

How can I get more response time for CP12 letter?

-Maryanne, PA

Dear Maryanne,

Unless you are expecting a tax refund check in the mail, receiving correspondence from the IRS can be a bit frightening. Your question indicates you received a Notice CP12 from the IRS. Notice CP12 is considered a "Math Error" notice. Many taxpayers who receive this notice automatically assume the IRS is auditing them. However, Notice CP12 is not an audit notification. The IRS sends out a Notice CP12 when they believe there is a math or clerical error on a submitted return that has impacted the refund amount. Generally, when the IRS deems such an error took place on a submitted return, they will automatically correct the return and issue Notice CP12 to let the taxpayer know of the changes made. Sometimes the adjustment is in favor of the taxpayer, and the refund amount is increased. But many times, the IRS's adjustments reduce the taxpayer's refund.

If, after reviewing the notice, your tax documents, and return, you realize the changes are correct, you do not need to respond to the notice. If you still have a refund, the notice states the taxpayer will receive their refund in four to six weeks. However, since the pandemic, the IRS has been behind on many fronts, and it may take months to receive the refund. I recommend logging on to your IRS account every few weeks to check the status. If more than eight weeks have passed, you may want to consider calling the IRS to inquire about the refund. But, be prepared to wait, and wait, and wait some more as it is the new normal to be on hold for several hours before speaking with a representative.

If you review the notice and do not believe the assessment is correct, it is vital to contact the IRS within 60 days of the date on the notice to request an abatement of the assessment. The abatement request can be made by phone or mail. If time is short and it does not appear there will be enough time to respond by mail, calling the number on the notice is your best bet. Like other phone lines at the IRS, it may take the better part of a day to reach a representative, so start early and surround yourself with snacks, beverages, a good book, and maybe a movie you want to see. If you have enough time to mail the request, I strongly urge you to send it by certified mail with a return receipt request.

One of the benefits of requesting a timely abatement is that a taxpayer preserves their right to petition Tax Court. When petitioning Tax Court, the taxpayer is not required to pay any tax balance due on the return in question beforehand. What if you know the IRS's changes are incorrect but cannot quickly locate the documentation needed to show the return was correct as filed? Do you have to wait to request abatement until you have all your information and documentation ready to present to the IRS? The good news is that you are not required to provide substantiation or an explanation when requesting an assessment abatement.

Nonetheless, you may need to provide an explanation and documentation in the future. If an explanation or documentation is not provided, the IRS may forward the case to the Examination division for audit. If you believe your return is correct and the IRS’s assessment is in error, but you do not have your documentation ready, it is better to request an abatement on assessment now. This will "buy" you some time to gather your substantiation and preserve your appeal and Tax Court rights.

What if the 60 days have passed and the window to request an abatement on the assessment has closed? Hope is not lost. As the saying goes, when a door is closed, look for a window. In this circumstance, your "window" is making a claim for refund in the District Court or the Court of Federal Claims. The drawback to filing a claim for refund in these courts is that the tax due must be paid first. If a tax increase reduces but does not eliminate your refund, you may not have to write an actual check to the IRS before filing the claim with the court. A taxpayer has the latter of three years from the date the return was filed or two years from the date the last payment for any tax due on the return was paid.

This cannot be stressed enough. It is imperative to request an abatement within the 60-day time frame to preserve your appeal rights, including your right to petition Tax Court. If you feel unsure about responding on your own and looking for a tax professional to guide you through the process, TaxAudit is here to help. We are just a phone call away: 800.922.8348.

Wishing you sunny skies with the IRS and many happy returns,

Jean Lee Scherkey, EA

Tags: CP12



Jean Lee Scherkey, EA
Learning Content Developer


Jean Lee Scherkey began her career at TaxAudit in 2015, and her current title is Learning Content Developer. She became an Enrolled Agent in 2005. For several years, Jean owned a successful tax practice that specialized in individual, California and trust taxation, and assisting those impacted by tax identity theft. With over fifteen years of varied experience in the field of taxation, Jean has worked at different private tax firms as a Staff Practitioner, Tax Analyst, and Researcher. Before coming to TaxAudit, she worked over two years for TurboTax as an “Ask the Tax Expert.” In addition to her work in TaxAudit’s Learning and Development Department, Jean is actively involved in the company’s ENGAGE Volunteer Program, which provides opportunities for employees to help and serve the local community.  


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