IRS Adjusted Your Return? – You may only have 90 days to challenge it

Posted by Michael S. Anderson | Apr 08, 2012 | 0 Comments

IRS adjusted your return? If so, 90 is an important number. It is the time frame i.e. the number of days the law thinks you should be given to respond to an IRS Notice of Deficiency.

The IRS Notice of Deficiency is issued as a result of the IRS making an adjustment to your return that you either didn't respond to or didn't agree with. It is the invitation to the taxpayer to take it up with the US Tax Court and see what it has to say about the adjustment.

The required legal method to do this is the filing of a Tax Court Petition.

90 days. That seems like a long time. Three months to get a Tax Court Petition figured out and filed correctly. When the 90th day arrives though, many taxpayers are surprised by how quickly the time passed and the petition is filed late.

If the Tax Court Petition isn't filed timely, the taxpayer receives a bill for the total amount of the debt including the adjustment and the “fun” begins. This is the type of fun that you want to avoid.

Here are some important things to understand about this 90-day letter.

1. The 90-day period is final. There is not ability to extend it. If you don't file the Tax Court Petition on time, your right to appeal the adjustment to Tax Court will be lost…forever and a day.

2. If you file the Petition timely, it doesn't go straight to the Judge. It goes first to the Appeals office and they will call you to try to work something out. Probably what you were trying to do, when you filed the Petition in the first place.

3. Some people file Tax Court Petitions without the aid of an attorney. Actually, a lot of people do. You can go to the Tax Court's Website at to find procedures and get access to some forms.

4. If you missed the appeal date and no Tax Court in your future, you may want to think about:

a. Filing an Audit Reconsideration Request. Publication 3598 tells you all about it. A few things about audit re-considerations. You must supply information that the IRS has never seen before and you don't have the ability to appeal its decision.

b. File an offer in compromise based on a doubt as to a liability. Yes another bite at the apple.

c. You can also just bite bullet, pay the tax and file a claim for a refund of the tax paid or at least the adjusted amount. If and when the IRS disallows the claim for the refund, you can appeal to a different court.

d.  There may be a way to deal with the debt via settlement rather than challenge, by using an offer in compromise or partial pay agreement.

e.   Bankruptcy may make sense at some point.


If you are being audited i.e. if the IRS is threatening to change your return in any significant way, pay close attention to your options to appeal their decision. When they issue the 90-day letter, don't dilly-dally. 90 days goes by quickly.

Michael Anderson, Tax Lawyer In Arizona Michael Anderson, Tax Lawyer In Arizona Written By:

Anderson Tax Law 2158 N. Gilbert Rd. Ste 101 Mesa, Arizona 85203

Phone: (480) 507-5985 Fax: (480) 507-5988 Email: [email protected] Website:

About the Author

Michael S. Anderson

Michael Anderson has been representing Arizona clients with tax debt problems for two decades and has helped his clients eliminate millions of dollars in tax debt. His tax debt practice is limited to helping individuals and the self-employed who have serious IRS problems.


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