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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.

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