Understanding Your CP88 Notice

What this notice is about

We're holding your refund because you haven't filed one or more tax returns and we believe you will owe tax.

What you need to do

  • File your personal tax return immediately or explain to us:
    • why you're filing late,
    • why you don't have to file, or
    • that you've already filed

You may want to

  • Review Collection Procedures for Taxpayers Filing and/or Paying Late for what happens when you don’t file a tax return.

  • Review your records and make sure you filed all your prior returns. Get copies of prior year tax returns and products.

  • Check to see that you have enough money withheld from your paycheck to pay your taxes. The IRS Tax Withholding Estimator can help.

  • Learn more about your payment options if you owe additional taxes on your return.

  • Learn more about payment plans and installment agreements.

  • Learn more about an Offer in Compromise.

  • Frequently asked questions

    What should I do if I disagree with the notice?
    Call us at the toll-free number on the top right corner of your notice. Please have your paperwork ready when you call. If you prefer, you can write to us using the notice's Response form. Please enclose it in the envelope we've provided.

    What should I do if I've just filed my tax return?
    You don't have to do anything if you filed your tax return(s) within the last eight weeks.

    What should I do if I didn't file my tax return or it's been more than eight weeks since I filed it?
    Complete the Response form from your notice. Check the name, Social Security number or employer identification number, and tax year on your notice. Make sure they match the name, number, and year on the return. Send us the Response form, and include a signed and dated copy of the return.

    What happens if I can't pay the full amount I owe when I file my return?
    You can make a payment plan with us when you can't pay the full amount you owe. If you owe tax on any return(s) you file, we will use your refund to help pay it.

    When will my refund be released?
    We can release your refund when we have received all past due returns, or explanations showing you did not have to file for those years.

    Tips for next year

    File your return on time, even if you will owe taxes. If necessary, you can make a payment plan to pay what you owe.

    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.

    If you have dependent children, you may be able to claim a tax credit for them. Publication 972, Child Tax Credit (PDF), has information about this credit.


Need Help?

  • You can authorize someone to contact the IRS on your behalf.
  • See if you qualify for help from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.
  • If you can’t find what you need online, you can call the IRS at the 800, 866, or 888 number listed on the notice.