Waiting for your refund check can make you feel as excited as a kid the day before your birthday. When you get that envelope from the IRS, you’re ready to tear it open and reveal your hard-earned money. But what does it mean when, instead of your refund check, you get a notice informing you that the IRS applied your refund to unpaid taxes? This happens when the IRS finds that you owe back taxes. They automatically use your refund amount to satisfy the full amount or a part of your tax debt.
What is this notice?
The IRS sends Notice CP49 to inform you about how much tax you overpaid over the last year (i.e., the amount of your refund) and how much of it the IRS used to fulfill your tax debt.
The Notice CP49 means that you have a tax debt or there are other federal taxes that have remained unpaid. If your refund money covered for the entire tax debt, then you don’t need to take further action. If your refund money didn’t satisfy your entire tax debt, then you can either pay the remaining balance in a lump sum or qualify for a payment plan.
Why was my refund applied to back taxes?
Many times, the IRS discovers that a taxpayer is under tax debt after they review their information and make changes to the tax return. In such cases of underpayment of taxes or owing of other tax debts, if the taxpayer has a refund, the IRS will apply the refund to the tax debt.
Simply put, if the IRS discovers that you have any unpaid federal taxes, they will satisfy the maximum amount of debt using your tax refund.
What if my refund didn’t cover the full amount of my tax debt?
Do you still owe federal taxes after the IRS used your refund? And can you not pay the balance in a single payment? Then you can use an Installment Agreement to pay the remaining tax debt in monthly installments. If your financial condition does not allow you to pay the balance, then you can consider applying for tax debt reduction plans such as Offer in Compromise or Partial Payment Installment Agreement.
Already making payments to the IRS under a payment plan? Great! You should continue to do so. The IRS will apply your refunds to your tax debt until your entire tax debt is paid off.
What if I do not have tax debt?
If you don’t have a tax debt, then you should immediately contact the IRS to correct their mistake. Your CP49 notice should have a toll-free number in the top right corner that you should use to call the IRS. Make sure you have your paperwork – including any canceled checks and amended returns – ready when you call.
Did you file jointly with your spouse? It’s also possible that the IRS applied your refund to your spouse’s tax debt. If so, you have options to claim your share of the refund.
Was your refund applied to back taxes? Don’t fret! Give us a call and we can help you figure out the best way to resolve your tax debt problem.