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If you have recently received a CP2000, the IRS is telling you that they disagree with the return you submitted. This could mean that they think you left something like a 1099 or W2 off of your return, or that their numbers don’t match yours for some other reason. Your first thought upon reading it may be: oh, they’re wrong, I’ll just give ‘em a call. Or maybe: this will sort itself out.

The proposed changes to your return, most likely resulting in a balance due, are not yet assessed—in fact, it states clearly on the notice: “This is not a bill”—but they will be assessed if you don’t successfully contest them. You can’t just expect to pick up the phone and sort it all out, and you definitely shouldn’t expect the IRS to sort it out in your favor on their own. More importantly, there’s a good chance they’re right—you did leave something off your return or make a mistake. Either way, the only way to avoid assessment is to respond before the deadline stated on the notice. It may make sense to respond with an amended return incorporating the items listed on the return. In some cases, the return is correct, and it is best to provide a written explanation on the return form provided. In other cases, it is best to provide both.

The CP2000 also comes with appeal rights as well, which sounds similar but is actually a completely separate path, with different options. In some cases, the IRS Office of Appeals may provide a better forum for you to make your argument or even contest the proposed penalty calculations. The IRS may actually contact you directly, allowing you to explain your situation more personably and clearly.

When this is all over, you may have a tax problem, and you may not. To give yourself a chance at the best possible outcome, it is best to decide on a course of action quickly. If representation seems like your best bet, WatchGuard would be happy to help you identify your options and take control of the situation right away.

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