The Internal Revenue Service has sent out more than 11 million letters to taxpayers showing them they owe more or are not getting back as much in a refund as they thought.
That’s five times more than in 2019, according to the IRS’ tax advocacy office, an independent arm of the agency created to help taxpayers settle disputes.
These so-called “math correction letters” are real and not a scam. The main forms of the letters are called CP-11, CP-12, CP-13, or Letter 6470. They are allowed under federal law. The IRS can use quick math corrections instead of full audits.
Taxpayers can appeal the letters and corrections, but it could lead to a full audit. The IRS also had to resend a large amount of these letters to make sure people knew their legal rights and how to appeal the corrections.
The vast majority of the errors have to do with the recovery rebate credit. Many taxpayers filed for the credit even though they received the full amount from their stimulus checks. That’s not allowed and considered double-dipping.
But the IRS also may have made mistakes in processing, and it does have the right to fix those mistakes later.
A spokesman with the IRS there has asked for patience as the agency works through these issues, which he said were created in part because the stimulus laws were based on estimates and rules were changed on the fly by Congress. And he acknowledged the pandemic has also slowed down the IRS’ processing time.
If you do get such a letter, you can call the number provided on the form, but most will get an automated system that files an appeal.
Experts also warn the number of such error letters is only expected to go up in 2022 because of the new child tax credits that began this summer with taxpayers possibly making more mistakes on their returns regarding that program.