What to Do When You Receive a CP 503 or Notice of Deficiency?

When the IRS sends out a CP 503 or a Notice of Deficiency, it signifies specific issues with your tax account, such as overdue payments or discrepancies in your tax return.

Guided by the expertise of Mr. Joshua Webskowski, an enrolled agent since 2012, we’ll explain what these notices mean and show you what steps to take next.

Complementing his insights, we aim to provide you with clear information for responding to IRS notices, ensuring you’re well-informed and prepared to take appropriate action.

Read along to discover practical tips and strategies for resolving your tax issues effectively.

Understanding CP 503: How to Handle CP 503 Notice?

The CP503 notice is an important communication from the IRS to remind taxpayers about any outstanding taxes. It informs them about the balance due, including penalties and interest, and highlights their rights as taxpayers.
Typically sent after a previous reminder (like CP501), this notice precedes more serious collection actions. It’s a crucial step in the IRS’s efforts to collect unpaid taxes. If you’ve received this notice, it’s vital to take immediate action to address your tax situation and prevent further IRS actions. In the sections ahead, we’ll guide you through the process of resolving the tax issues highlighted in the CP503 notice.

Read your notice carefully

This section will help you identify key details, such as how much you owe, when it’s due, and your payment options. Here we go:

  • The CP 503 notice provides important details about your tax situation.
  • Look for the total amount you owe, the deadline for your payment, and the different ways you can make this payment.
  • Understanding this information is crucial to addressing the notice correctly and avoiding further issues with the IRS.

Pay the amount you owe by the due date

Settling your tax debt by the deadline is essential to avoid extra charges. The below section will guide you through the payment options available and how to confirm your payment with the IRS. This ensures your tax obligations are met on time.

  • To avoid additional penalties and interest, try to pay the full amount by the due date provided in the notice.
  • You can make payments online, by phone, or by mail. Choose the method that is most convenient for you.
  • Confirm that the IRS has updated your account accordingly if you’ve already paid or made arrangements before receiving this notice.

Make a Payment Plan if you can’t pay the full amount

If full payment is out of reach, there’s still a pathway to resolve your tax dues. This section discusses setting up a manageable payment plan with the IRS, ensuring you understand and can adhere to its terms to prevent default.

  • If paying the entire amount upfront is impossible, don’t ignore the notice. Instead, look into setting up a payment plan (installment agreement) with the IRS.
  • You can apply for an installment agreement online, which allows you to pay off your balance over time.
  • Understand the payment plan terms and ensure you can meet the monthly payments to avoid defaulting on the agreement.

Contact Best Tax Pro for assistance:

If the amount listed on the CP 503 notice doesn’t seem right, or if you have other disputes, don’t hesitate to get help. Mr. Joshua Webskowski, also a tax resolution specialist from Best Tax Pro, provides a free 30-minute consultation for individuals dealing with tax resolution issues or problems with the IRS.

What you need to know about IRS Collection Warning for CP 503 Notice?

IRS collections warnings for the CP 503 Notice are crucial communications from the IRS regarding unpaid taxes. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Understanding CP503: CP503 notices are reminders from the IRS that you have unpaid taxes. They outline the amount owed, including tax penalties and interest accrued. It’s a signal that the IRS is actively seeking payment. Mr. Joshua Webskowski’s insight sheds light on the urgency of these notices, emphasizing that the IRS is in “full court press mode,” indicating their active engagement in tax collection efforts.
  2. Potential Consequences: Ignoring CP503 notices can lead to more severe collection actions, such as wage garnishment, bank levies, or property tax liens. It’s essential to address these warnings promptly to avoid further penalties and legal action.
  3. Take Action: If you receive a CP503 notice, don’t ignore it. Contact the IRS or a tax professional immediately to discuss your options. You may be able to set up a payment plan, negotiate a settlement, or explore other avenues to resolve your tax debt.

Understanding Notice of Deficiency

A Notice of Deficiency, often called a “90-day letter,” is a formal statement from the IRS indicating a discrepancy in your tax return and stating that you owe more taxes than initially reported.
This notice allows you to agree or disagree with the IRS’s findings before any changes are made to your tax liability.
The notice typically includes the amount of tax the IRS believes you owe, plus any interest and penalties. It also outlines the reasons for the changes.

Reasons Taxpayers Receive Notices of Deficiency

When the IRS sends a Notice of Deficiency, it’s signaling a discrepancy or issue with your taxes that needs your attention. The section below will help you understand why taxpayers might receive such notices.

  • Unfiled Returns: If no tax return was received by the deadline, the IRS prepared a substitute return.
  • Tax Return Discrepancies: Differences found between reported and actual income or deductions.
  • Audit Adjustments: Due to income or deduction errors, more taxes are owed after an audit.
  • Math Errors: Mistakes in calculations or processing on the tax return.
  • Underreported Income: The IRS discovers amounts not disclosed on a tax return.

How to handle an IRS Notice of Deficiency?

Receiving an IRS Notice of Deficiency means the IRS believes you owe more taxes than you reported. This brief guide is designed to help you understand and respond to this notice effectively.

Understand the Notice carefully

This step is crucial. The notice details why the IRS thinks you owe additional taxes. Understanding every part of this notice is key to formulating the right response and avoiding further issues.

  • Take a look at the details: Carefully review the Notice. It describes the proposed tax deficiency, including the total amount of overdue taxes, any fines, and any accumulated interest.
    Penalties can be imposed for various reasons, including late filing, underpayment, or inaccuracies on your tax return.
  • Verify your information: Ensure the name, Social Security number (SSN) or Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), and tax year on the Notice all match your records. If there are any discrepancies, contact the IRS immediately at 1-800-829-1040 to clarify.

Gather your documentation before responding

Before responding to the IRS, collecting all relevant tax documents and evidence is essential. This includes past tax returns and any supporting documents that can prove your case. Let’s understand this in detail:

  • Tax Records: Collect copies of your tax return (Form 1040, etc.), W-2s, 1099s, and any other relevant tax documents for the year in question.
  • Supporting Documents: Gather any documentation that supports your position on the deficiency. This might include receipts, canceled checks, bank statements, business logs, legal documents, or correspondence with the IRS regarding the issue. The specific documents needed will depend on the reason for the deficiency.

Send documents by Certified Mail

Ensuring the IRS receives and acknowledges your documents is critical when responding to them. Mr. Joshua Webskowski emphasizes the importance of a clear communication trail. Here’s how to ensure your documents are properly sent and recorded:

Use certified mail:

  • Guarantees the IRS acknowledges receipt of your documents the same day they’re mailed.
  • It provides you with a record of delivery, which is crucial for tracking your communications with the IRS.

Why does this matters?

  • While the IRS may send their documents at a bulk rate, your certified mail ensures your response is prioritized.
  • It is essential for resolving disputes, as it proves the IRS received your documents.

Respond to the Notice by the deadline

The deadline to respond is critical. The Notice will specify a date (usually 90 days from the mailing date). Missing this deadline could limit your options for contesting the deficiency. Here are your response options:

  1. Agree with the assessment.
    Pay the Amount Due: If you agree with the proposed deficiency, penalties, and interest, the simplest solution is to settle the debt by the deadline. You can make a full payment online, by phone using the automated system, or by mail using the enclosed payment voucher.
  2. Disagree with the assessment
    File a Petition with the Tax Court (Time-Sensitive!) If you disagree with the IRS’s assessment, you have the right to challenge it in the Tax Court. However, there’s a strict deadline: you must file a petition within 90 days of the Notice’s mailing date. Missing this deadline could significantly restrict your options.

Consult a tax professional

Tax law is intricate. Consider consulting with our qualified tax professionals, such as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Enrolled Agent at Best Tax Pro, experienced in tax court litigation. They can guide you through the process of filing a tax court petition and represent you in court. We can help you with:

  • Request an Audit Reconsideration: If you disagree with the assessment but don’t want to go to the tax court, we can help you request an audit reconsideration. This involves requesting a review of your case by a different IRS officer.
  • Offer in Compromise (OIC): If you can’t afford to pay the full amount due, consider submitting an Offer in Compromise (OIC). An OIC proposes a settlement amount you can realistically pay in full. The IRS may accept your offer based on your financial situation. Our tax professional will determine if an OIC is viable for you and assist with the application process.


Receiving a CP 503, or Notice of Deficiency, can be stressful, but taking action promptly is important. Start by carefully reviewing the notice and understanding the details of your tax situation, as discussed in the blog.

Remember, seek professional help by contacting our tax advisors at Best Tax Pro. Addressing the issue promptly can help prevent further complications and ensure a smoother resolution.

In addition to providing insights on “What to Do When You Receive a CP 503 or Notice of Deficiency,” Best Tax Pro also offers various services to assist you with various tax issues. This includes supporting IRS audits, dealing with final IRS notices, and catching up on unfiled taxes. We offer specialized services like settling tax debts, defending audits, and reviewing previous audit decisions. Plus, we’re equipped to help if you have back taxes due, owe on your 401K, or are experiencing IRS wage garnishment.


Mr. Joshua A. Webskowski

Joshua specializes in successfully resolving cases in all areas of tax resolution including liens, levies, & other IRS collections cases.

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Don't sweat it. Millions of Americans got them.
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