Certified Public Accountants and Consultants


What To Do if You Received a Notice of Deficiency
or a Notice of Determination From the IRS

By Gene D Kublanov, CPA JD
January 30, 2017

If you receive an IRS Notice of Deficiency or a Notice of Determination that has a disputed amount of $50,000 or less including any additions to tax or penalties you can petition to the United States Tax Court.  You can do this yourself and don't need an attorney.  Just fill out the Petition to US Tax Court provided below and mail it with all the required documents.   Make sure to check "small tax case" in Item 4 on the petition.  Just be aware that a decision in a "small tax case" cannot be appealed to a Court of Appeals by you or the IRS.   Also, Federal Rules of Evidence are relaxed in a "small tax case"  

Makes sure you check all other appropriate boxes and attach a payment for $60.00 either by check or money order payable to " Clerk, United States Tax Court", or you can get a fee waiver if you qualify.

When to File?
The tax laws set forth the different time limits for filing petitions in different kinds of cases. The IRS notice usually provides the number of days that you will have to file a petition, counting from the date the IRS notice was mailed to you. That date is usually stamped on the notice of deficiency or the notice of determination. In addition, the IRS notice may state the last date for filing the petition. The tax laws are very strict on filing dates and do not allow extra time for filing a petition. For example, in a deficiency case, the petition must be filed by the 90th day (or the 150th day if the notice is addressed to a person outside the United States) from the date of the mailing of the notice of deficiency, but in a collection action, the petition must be filed within 30 days of the mailing of the notice of determination. The Tax Court cannot extend the time for filing a petition. 

What's Next?
You will receive a notice of receipt of petition from the Tax Court acknowledging the filing of the petition. That document will tell you the docket number of your case. For example, if you file the petition in 2007, the last two digits will be -07. The docket number might look like 1234-07. If you chose, and the Tax Court granted, S case status, the docket number will contain the letter S at the end, for example, 1234-07S. You should include the docket number assigned to you on all letters and documents you send to the Tax Court and to the IRS. If you represent yourself and file your case after September 9, 2008, you will receive with your notice of receipt of petition registration instructions for electronic access (eAccess). If you filed your case after January 1, 2005, and before September 10, 2008, you may obtain eAccess registration instructions by sending a letter to the Clerk of the Court or by completing the online Petitioner Access Registration Request Form. If you are represented by counsel, your counsel may register for eAccess by completing Practitioner Access registration. You may also request instructions and register for eAccess, but you should first consult your counsel.

Next, an Answer is filed by the IRS.   The IRS may want to settle your case or go to trial. 

What to do before you go to Court
  • Think about what facts you want to tell the Judge.
  •  Organize any documents you have to support your case.
  • Organize your facts and arguments so you can present your case clearly.
  • Meet with and talk to people at the IRS who call or write to you.
  •   Provide to the IRS copies of documents that you intend to use at trial.
  •   Agree in writing to facts and documents that are not in dispute.
  •  the IRS will not agree (stipulate) to your documents, bring three copies  of each document to court.
  •  Consider whether you need any witnesses to support your case.
  •  If you need a witness, make sure the witness is available and present in the courtroom at the trial session.
  •  Come to court early so you will be ready when your case is called at the     calendar call. You may receive a notice from the Court recommending that you arrive at Court by 9:00 a.m. to have the opportunity to meet with clinical and calendar call attorneys. The Court believes it would be in your interest to comply with this recommendation.

Instructions on filling out the petition:

  1.   First, fill in your full name on the line at the top left of the petition. If you are a married couple filing a joint petition or if you were married in the tax year the return was filed and wish to file a joint petition, fill in both names on this line.
  2.   Next, check the appropriate box on line 1 for the type of case you intend to file. Place an X in the box that represents the type of letter you received from the IRS. For example, if you received a Notice of Deficiency, check that box. If you have a collection case, that is, the IRS has filed a Federal tax lien against property you own or has proposed a levy on your wages, bank accounts, State tax refunds, etc., and issued you a notice of determination, check the box for Notice of Determination Concerning Collection Action. If you received a notice of determination concerning a request for relief from joint and several liability (innocent spouse relief), or if you filed a claim with the IRS for relief from joint and several liability, six months have passed, and the IRS has not issued a determination letter, check the box marked Notice of Determination Concerning Your Request for Relief From Joint and Several Liability. Lastly, if you received a Notice of Determination Concerning Worker Classification, check that box.
  3.   On line 2, put the mailing date of the notice you received. You should also enter the city and State of the IRS office that issued you the notice.
   4.   Put the tax year(s) for which the notice was issued on line 3.
   5.   On line 4, you should choose whether you want your case conducted as a regular or small tax case and check the appropriate box. If you do not check a box, the Court will file your case as a regular case.

You should list clearly and concisely the errors that you believe the IRS made in the notice of deficiency or the notice of determination that was sent to you. List each issue separately using letters or numbers for each item, and briefly state why you disagree with the IRS. Be sure to list each item in the notice of deficiency or notice of determination with which you disagree.    For example:
     A. I disagree with the IRS’s disallowance of my claim for head of household status because I satisfied the requirements for claiming that status.
       B. I disagree with the IRS’s disallowance of my dependent exemptions for my children because each of them satisfies the tests for dependency.
      C. I disagree with the IRS’s disallowance of my claim for the earned income credit because I correctly calculated the credit on my return.
I disagree with the IRS’s determination that a levy be imposed on my wages because:
(1) such a levy would constitute a financial hardship for me and my family; and
(2) because I have proposed an alternative method of paying my federal tax liability.
On line 6 of the petition you should briefly state the facts on which you rely to support your position. List each statement of facts in the same order as you listed the issues on line 5. Clearly stating why you believe the IRS is wrong and what facts you rely upon will help the Tax Court understand your position.

Lastly, sign your name, preferably in blue ink, on the line for signature of petitioner. If you are filing a joint petition, be sure to have your spouse sign the petition as well. It is important that each signature be an original signature (and not a copy). Fill in your address and phone number on the lines provided. If the petition is a joint petition, your spouse must provide his or her address and phone number.

For more infomration go to the US Tax Court Website or Call Us:

Mail your petition to :
United States Tax Court
400 Second Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20217

Petition to
US Tax Court