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IRS collection notices: What do they mean?

Posted by Admin Posted on Aug 16 2019

Each year, the IRS sends millions of letters and notices to taxpayers. I frequently receive calls from panicked taxpayers regarding IRS collection notices they received in the mail. Fear is the IRS' best weapon.

These IRS collection notices serve two purposes:

(1) inform taxpayers of their rights and

(2) to demand payment.

These notices are generated now by the IRS computers, and are essentially “form notices”, but each notice conveys important information. The first and subsequent notices come regularly, often 4-5 weeks apart, with each subsequent notice promising more aggressive action by the IRS to collect the tax debt.

The first three IRS collection notices are informative in nature. The IRS wants you, the taxpayer, to know how much you owe and that the IRS expects you to pay. These notices also inform the taxpayer that if payment is not forthcoming that the IRS is going to use more aggressive collection tactics such as IRS bank levies and wage garnishments.

 It is the last IRS collection notice labeled “Final Notice of Intent to Levy” that you need to be concerned about. Once you get this notice you can expect the IRS to do a bank levy or wage garnishment. No longer is the IRS seeking to inform the taxpayer, the IRS is now in tax collection mode and you can expect more aggressive action on the part of the IRS to get the taxes paid.

The collection notices you can expect to receive are listed here in the order you will receive them.

CP14 - First notice - Balance Due on Tax Return

CP501 – Second notice - You Still Owe a Balance – Reminder

CP503 – Third notice – Second reminder but sometimes the IRS skips this notice and goes directly to the fourth notice

CP504 – Fourth notice - Notice of Intent to Seize (Levy) Your Property or Rights to Property (If you have not paid your tax debt or arranged for a plan of resolution after receiving these notices, the threats get serious. If you get one of the following notices, you have little time to act before losing rights and getting your income or assets seized)

CP90 – Fifth notice - Final Notice of Intent to Levy; Notice of Your Rights to a Hearing

LT11 – Final notice - Intent to Seize Your Property or Rights to Property


If you or someone you know in the Raleigh, North Carolina has received an IRS collection notice, please feel free to contact me directly at (919) 290-1011.