Let’s find a tax preparation office for you


Information regarding browser or device support

Oh no! We may not fully support the browser or device software you are using!

To experience our site in the best way possible, please update your browser or device software, or move over to another browser.

We can help resolve your tax issues. Call (855) 580-9375 today

We can help resolve your tax issues. Call (855) 580-9375 today.


What is a CP88 notice?

Mark Steber Chief Tax Information Officer Published On June 22, 2020


IRS notices are letters sent to inform taxpayers of important tax information. Each one is different, but we can explain what the CP88 is about.

Understanding your CP88 notice

The IRS is holding your refund because you did not file one or more tax returns and the IRS believes you will owe for that year. File your tax return with the IRS as soon as possible.

Type of Notice

Refund held due to an unfiled tax return.

Why you received the CP88 notice

You received a CP88 notice because you haven’t filed your tax return for a previous year and the IRS thinks you will owe tax. A CP88 notice is sent to notify you that your refund will be held until you file a return and the balance due for the applicable tax year is calculated.

Likely next steps

As always, read the notice carefully. 

If you agree, follow the directions on the notice and file a tax return by the date given on the notice.

If you filed your tax return within eight weeks before receiving the notice, you don’t have to do anything. If it has been more than eight weeks or you didn’t file your tax return, you should complete the form that came with your CP88 notice and file your tax return.

If there is a reason you did not file, you will need to contact the IRS. The IRS contact information can be found on your CP88 notice. You can complete the form that came with your CP88 notice to respond that you already filed, have no filing requirement, or have a reason for filing late. To learn more, visit the IRS page, Understanding Your CP88 Notice.

CP88 Notice deadline

The deadline for this notice will be stated on the notice itself. Read the notice carefully.

If you miss the deadline

If you do not file by the deadline/due date, the IRS may determine your tax for the unfiled year for you. The IRS will hold your refund and could apply it to any balance from the unfiled year. Interest and penalties will also apply.

About the Author

Mark Steber is Senior Vice President and Chief Tax Information Officer for Jackson Hewitt. With over 30 years of experience, he oversees tax service delivery, quality assurance and tax law adherence. Mark is Jackson Hewitt’s national spokesperson and liaison to the Internal Revenue Service and other government authorities. He is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), holds registrations in Alabama and Georgia, and is an expert on consumer income taxes including electronic tax and tax data protection.

More about Mark Steber Our Editorial Policy

Owe back taxes? Jackson Hewitt® can help.

Thank you for your submission. We'll be in touch soon.

Related articles

Avoiding an Audit

Avoiding an Audit

Why fear an audit? When you could help prevent it. The thought of the IRS combing through years of back tax returns is enough to send a shudder down anyone’s spine. And you try not to think about what might happen if they find a mistake. But there are steps you can take to help keep it from happening.

View more

What is a CP23 notice?

IRS notices are letters sent to inform taxpayers of important tax information. Each one is different, but we can explain what the CP23 is about.

View more

Will My Tax Return Trigger an Audit?

Contrary to popular belief, the chances of being subjected to an IRS audit are quite low – 0.54% if we go by the figures for 2017. However small the chances, though, you likely want to avoid being audited by the IRS, period. Here are some tips to help you figure out if your return is likely to spark an inquiry.

View more

Request a free tax consult today

Please enter a valid first name
Please enter a valid last name
Please enter a valid email address
Please enter a valid phone/mobile number
Please select state
Please review our consents and policies:

Why Jackson Hewitt®?

We see you

Our Tax Pros will connect with you one-on-one, answer all your questions, and always go the extra mile to support you.

We got you

We have flexible hours, locations, and filing options that cater to every hardworking tax filer.

We fight for you

We won't stop until you get every dollar you deserve, guaranteed. It's what we've been doing for over 35 years.