Student gets IRS notice: $1,500 owed in tax

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Judy O'Connor
Dear Tax Talk,
I just received a notice from the IRS saying I owe $1,500 in taxes from 2012. In 2012, I was 19-20 years old, my parents did my taxes, I lived at home with my parents, was a full-time student who worked for three months over the summer and made less than $2,000. I do not see how this can be a valid tax. I am not married, have zero kids and did not have any loans or debt to my name at the time. I am concerned. Could this be a mistake?
-- Michelle

Dear Michelle,
The IRS notice you received may be a mistake and you definitely should be concerned at this point, as you need to resolve this matter so that your IRS record is correct for 2012.

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Young woman doing paperwork in living room copyright Peter Bernik/Shutterstock.com

The IRS sends out millions of notices every year, and the worst thing anybody can do is ignore them. Unless the matter is addressed, the IRS will continue its efforts to collect on what it believes it is owed. I cannot tell you how many people receive an IRS notice, and the first thing they do is panic. But that does not help resolve anything. Now let's go over your situation.

  • The first thing you need to do is make sure you have a copy of your tax return that was prepared by your parents.
  • Next on your list is to take a look at the IRS notice and read it very carefully, as this is where you will probably find out what the specific problem is on your return.

The initial notice includes information regarding why the IRS has come up with an additional amount due. Since you mention being in school, perhaps there was an account in your name that was for your college expenses, and this information was inadvertently left off your return.

The IRS notice will tell you what to do if you agree or do not agree with the adjustment. When you write back to the agency, be sure to keep copies of everything you send. It may take the IRS 10 to 12 weeks to get back to you, so be patient.

If you do not understand the notice, then you are going to need to call the number on the IRS notice. Be sure to keep a record of to whom you speak, the date of the call and what you are told.

Thanks for the great question and all the best to you in your studies.

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