Evergreen Post: IRS Sending Erroneous Balance Due Notices

Many of our clients have authorized us to receive IRS notices for them.  Yesterday, we received three “balance due” (CP14) notices.  I was quite surprised, as all three individuals paid their tax by electronic debit with the filing of their tax returns.  I ran account transcripts, and all show $0 balances (they did indeed pay, and the IRS shows the payments).

As a reminder, I’ve noted this issue in years past.  The IRS has apparently decided this isn’t worth fixing.  So let’s look at the costs of this: The IRS wastes taxpayer funds by knowingly sending out erroneous notices.  They waste taxpayer’s time because these notices will cause either the taxpayer or their tax professional to investigate.  This will cause more taxpayer funds being spent, as IRS employees get needless phone calls.

The solution for the IRS is to wait one or two “cycles” to allow the payments to post.  (The IRS computer system is old.  It uses batch processing, so when a return is filed with electronic debit the return might be in cycle 17 while the payment will be in cycle 18 or 19.)  The IRS changed this for the regular due date (April 15th) but doesn’t think this is worthwhile to change for returns on extension.  The IRS is wrong, but I’m not going to win this fight.

This does bring up some standard rules about IRS notices:

  1. Do not assume the notice is correct.  Per IRS statistics, two-thirds of IRS notices are wrong in whole or in part.
  2. If you use a tax professional, let him or her know immediately about the notice.  IRS notices do not get better with age.
  3. If you do need to respond, make sure you respond timely and use certified mail, return receipt requested.  You want proof the IRS received the response.

So if you’ve paid your tax and receive a CP14 notice alleging you didn’t, check to see if your check (or electronic payment) cleared.  If it did, most likely this is a timing issue.


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