Publication 556 - Introductory Material

The IRS Mission

Provide America's taxpayers top quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities and by applying the tax law with integrity and fairness to all.


Penalty for filing erroneous claim for refund or credit. You may have to pay a penalty if you file an erroneous claim for refund or credit. See Penalty for erroneous claim for refund, later under Claims for Refund.

Interest and penalties suspended if notice not mailed within 36 months. If you file your return timely (including extensions), interest and certain penalties will be suspended if the IRS does not mail a notice to you within 36 months. See Suspension of interest and penalties, later under Examination of Returns.

Fast track mediation. The IRS offers fast track mediation services to help taxpayers resolve many disputes resulting from:

  • Examinations (audits),

  • Offers in compromise,

  • Trust fund recovery penalties, and

  • Other collection actions.

See Fast track mediation under If You Do Not Agree.


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) accepts most federal tax returns as filed. However, the IRS examines (or audits) some returns to determine if income, expenses, and credits are being reported accurately.

If your return is selected for examination, it does not suggest that you made an error or are dishonest. Returns are chosen by computerized screening, by random sample, or by an income document matching program. See Examination selection criteria, later. You should also know that many examinations result in a refund or acceptance of the tax return without change.

This publication discusses general rules and procedures that the IRS follows in examinations. It explains what happens during an examination and your appeal rights, both within the IRS and in the federal court system. It also explains how to file a claim for refund of tax you already paid.

As a taxpayer, you have the right to be treated fairly, professionally, promptly, and courteously by IRS employees. Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer, explains your rights when dealing with the IRS.

Comments and suggestions.   We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.

  You can write to us at the following address:

Internal Revenue Service 
Tax Forms and Publications Division 
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526 
Washington, DC 20224

  We respond to many letters by telephone. Therefore, it would be helpful if you would include your daytime phone number, including the area code, in your correspondence.

  You can send your comments from Click on “More Information” and then on “Comment on Tax Forms and Publications.

  Although we cannot respond individually to each comment received, we do appreciate your feedback and will consider your comments as we revise our tax products.

Ordering forms and publications.   Visit to download forms and publications, call 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676), or write to the address below and receive a response within 10 days after your request is received.

Internal Revenue Service  
1201 N. Mitsubishi Motorway 
Bloomington, IL 61704-6613

Tax questions.   If you have a tax question, check the information available on or call 1-800-829-1040. We cannot answer tax questions sent to either of the above addresses.

Useful Items - You may want to see:


  • 1 Your Rights as a Taxpayer

  • 5 Your Appeal Rights and How To Prepare a Protest If You Don't Agree

  • 547 Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts

  • 594 The IRS Collection Process

  • 910 Guide to Free Tax Services

  • 971 Innocent Spouse Relief

  • 1546 Taxpayer Advocate Service–Your Voice at the IRS

  • 1660 Collection Appeal Rights

  • 3605 Fast Track Mediation

  • 3920 Tax Relief for Victims of Terrorist Attacks

  • 4134 Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List

Form (and Instructions)

  • 843 Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement

  • 911 Request for Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance (and Application for Taxpayer Assistance Order)

  • 1040X Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return

  • 2848 Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative

  • 4506 Request for Copy of Tax Return

  • 4506-T Request for Transcript of Tax Return

  • 8379 Injured Spouse Allocation

  • 8857 Request for Innocent Spouse Relief

See How To Get Tax Help , near the end of this publication, for information about getting these publications and forms.

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