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Understanding your CP16 Notice

We sent you this notice to tell you about changes we made to your return that affect your refund. We made these changes because we believe there was a miscalculation or other error. Our records show you owe other tax debts and we applied all or part of your refund to them.


What you need to do

  • Read your notice carefully — it will explain the changes we made to your tax return.
  • If you agree with the changes we made, no response to this notice is required.
    • Correct your tax return copy that you kept for your records, but don’t send it to us.
    • We’ll apply refunds to the outstanding balance due, even if you are on a payment agreement.
      • To make an additional payment, the IRS.gov Payments tab lists electronic payment options.
      • If you can't pay your tax debt in full, you can make payment arrangements using the Online Payment Agreement tool.
    • We will issue you a refund if there are no other debts we’re required to collect.
  • If you don’t agree with the changes to your return, contact us within 60 days from the date of your notice and see “Answers to Common Questions” below.
    • By telephone: Call us at the telephone number shown on your notice. The fastest way to resolve many return errors is by telephone. Some cases require additional information that you may provide verbally. If we need a missing or corrected form or document, you may fax it to us while on the telephone. Either way, we may be able to correct your account immediately.
    • By mail: Please include a copy of the notice along with your correspondence or documentation, and allow 30-60 or more days for a resolution.  

Answers to Common Questions

I was not aware of another tax debt. How do I find out more details about it?
Use the Get Transcript application to obtain a Tax Return Transcript or Record of Account Transcript. Married taxpayers may only access each other’s information for years where the filing status is “Married filing jointly.”

What if I disagree with the debt you applied my refund to?
Contact us using the number provided on your notice to discuss your account.

How can I find out what caused my tax return to change?
Review your notice carefully. If you need additional details, contact us at the number listed on your notice.

When must I respond if I disagree with the changes you made?

  • If you contact us within 60 days in writing from the date of this notice, we'll reverse the change we made to your account. However, if you're unable to provide us additional information that justifies the reversal and we believe the reversal is in error, we'll forward your case for audit. This step gives you formal appeal rights, including the right to appeal our decision in court before you have to pay the additional tax. After we forward your case, the audit staff will contact you within five to six weeks to fully explain the audit process and your rights. If you don't contact us within the 60 day period, you'll lose your right to appeal our decision before paying the tax.
  • If you don't contact us within 60 days, we may not reverse without documentation and you must pay the additional tax. You can then file a claim for refund. You must submit the claim within three years of the date you filed the tax return, or within two years of the date of your last payment for this tax.

My refund was applied to my spouse’s debt. How can I find out if I am an injured spouse?
Review Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation and its instructions.


Tips for next year

Consider filing your taxes electronically. Filing online can help you avoid mistakes and find credits and deductions that you may qualify for. In many cases you can file for free. Learn more about e-file.

To help avoid the same issue next year, correct the copy of this year’s tax return that you kept for your records. If you use a tax preparer, have them correct their copy also.

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 21-Oct-2016

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