Math Error Notices Aren’t Just Confusing; Millions of Notices Adjusting the Recovery Rebate Credit Also Omitted Critical Information
When the IRS uses its math error authority to correct an error on a taxpayer’s return, the taxpayer, under IRC § 6213(b)(2)(A), has 60 days from the time the notice was sent to dispute the correction and request an automatic abatement. After the abatement is made, the IRS must follow the deficiency procedures to reassess the tax, and it cannot collect the assessed amount during the 60-day period that the taxpayer has to request abatement.
As mentioned in the Math Error Blog: Part I, the IRS omitted the 60-day time period language for requesting abatement from over five million math error notices where the only adjustment was for the Recovery Rebate Credit (RRC). Ironically, neither the CP 11 nor CP 12 notices include the term “math error” or the authority provided by the Code. So how are taxpayers even supposed to know what they are looking at?
Good news: The IRS is doing the right thing and will be issuing a supplemental notice providing taxpayers additional time, 60 days from the issuance of the new notice, to request an abatement, which includes providing taxpayers the ability to provide information or documentation to support the RRC. If you received a prior RRC math error notice omitting the 60-day language, keep an eye on your mailbox for the supplemental letter and consider the options listed below.
This revelation of the missing 60-day abatement language raised many questions, but one thing is clear – this omission would have had serious implications for taxpayers and was a significant compromise of their rights, particularly the right to be informed, the right to a fair and just tax system, the right to challenge the IRS’s position and be heard, and the right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax. Specifically, this omission risked taxpayers losing their right to request an abatement, receive a statutory notice of deficiency, and seek judicial review in the U.S. Tax Court, the only pre-payment judicial forum.