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What is the IRS Notice CP90?

Jo Willetts, EA Director, Tax Resources Published On March 16, 2020


IRS Notice CP90 is an urgent, final warning from the IRS when you have unpaid taxes. Do not ignore this notice—it acts as the IRS’ Notice of Intent to Levy (they are letting you know they intend to seize your assets and property). If you do not take action within 30 days, the IRS can take up to all but basic living amounts for your family size and area. To find out how much of your income you can automatically keep each pay period, see IRS Publication 1494.

Why would I receive an IRS Notice CP90?

The IRS sends Notice CP90 after they have already sent multiple notices requesting payment but have not yet received payment or any other remedy. If you receive this notice, read it carefully. It explains the actions the IRS can take, your options, and the due date to respond.

As with any other IRS notice, you should see the CP90 code on it as well as a number to call the IRS should you need further information or disagree with the information provided. If these are not on your notice, it could be fraudulent. Before making a payment, confirm that the notice is genuine by calling the IRS (800-829-1040). Once you have, you can also make a payment online  instead of mailing one.

Next Steps

The quickest way to deal with Notice CP90 is to pay the amount you owe within 30 days, which will remove the levy on your property, and the IRS will no longer take action to seize your assets. If you are unable to pay the full amount, you may request a payment plan. You can find out more about payment plans here, or call the number at the top of your notice to speak to an IRS representative. 

If you are eligible, you may be able to work out an Offer in Compromise (OIC), which is an agreement between you and the IRS that lets you settle your tax liabilities for a lower amount than you owe. Not everyone can qualify for an OIC, and it should only be considered when all other options have been exhausted. You can work with a Jackson Hewitt Tax Debt Resolution Specialist to figure out the best option for you.

How to Request a Hearing with the IRS

You also have the option of appealing the possible seizure of your assets by requesting a Collection Due Process hearing by the due date listed on the notice. To request a hearing, fill out Form 12153. This will usually stop the levy action, and the IRS can’t take action to seize your property until after the hearing and after the IRS office of appeals has made a decision about your situation.

There are several acceptable reasons to request a hearing (the IRS Office of Appeals won’t consider “frivolous” reasons for appeals.) Some acceptable reasons are:

  • You would like to propose a different way to pay what you owe (this can include an installment plan or an OIC).

  • You have a hardship and can’t pay your taxes. Examples of hardships include excessive medical debt; a terminal illness; income only from Social Security, welfare, or unemployment benefits; low or no income due to unemployment; or reasonable expenses that exceed your income.

  • You would like a lien subordination, which means the IRS lien would be secondary to another lien, such as a mortgage. You might request this to refinance a mortgage (perhaps to consolidate debt?), for example.

  • You would like a lien withdrawal, meaning you think the lien should not have been filed, possibly because the IRS did not follow correct procedures or filed the lien too early in the process.

  • Your spouse, or ex-spouse, is responsible for some or all of your unpaid taxes.

  • You disagree with the amount of taxes the IRS says you owe.

Ignoring IRS notices is never the way to fix any issue with unpaid taxes. It’s very important to act immediately if you receive Notice CP90. If the IRS doesn’t hear from you in 30 days, you will lose the right to an appeal hearing, and the IRS will continue to levy your assets.

Need Help?

Receiving Notice CP90 may feel scary and stressful. Remember, the IRS has programs in place for people who can’t pay the taxes they owe. Since this is a serious situation with an urgent deadline, it can be helpful to consult a tax debt resolution specialist. Jackson Hewitt can work with you and talk to the IRS on your behalf to find a resolution. Most importantly, don’t wait to deal with this notice until it’s too late.

About the Author

Jo Willetts, Director of Tax Resources at Jackson Hewitt, has more than 25 years of experience in the tax industry. As an Enrolled Agent, Jo has attained the highest level of certification for a tax professional. She began her career at Jackson Hewitt as a Tax Pro, working her way up to General Manager of a franchise store. In her current role, Jo provides expert knowledge company-wide to ensure that tax information distributed through all Jackson Hewitt channels is current and accurate.

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