What is My Last Known Address, and Why is it Important?
Internal Revenue Code section 6212, requires that notices and documents by sent by the IRS to the taxpayer at the last known address. Most IRS notices have to be sent to this address. Some examples of IRS notices which must be sent to the persons last known address are:
- Statutory notice of deficiency – known as a 90day letter
- Notice of the right to a collection due process hearing
- Notice of determination
This is the address that appears on the taxpayer’s most recent filed, and processed, tax return – unless the IRS is given a notification of a different address.
The best way to notify the IRS of an address change is to use IRS Form 8822, which is the Change of Address. The IRS can also be notified of an address change, orally. It can be done in person, or by telephone. The problem with this method is that if the IRS employee fails to update the computer records, there’s no way to prove you notified the IRS.
The IRS also has a process where it’ll update its database of last known addresses by using the NCOA database. This database is also known as the National Change of Address database, which is maintained by the US Postal Service.
It’s important that the IRS has your last known correct address, because if something is sent to you at the address, and you don’t get it, you are still responsible for responding to it. Inquiring into a person’s last known address is fact driven. The courts will examine what the IRS knew, or should have known, regarding a taxpayer’s last known address at the time the notice was sent. There are many cases decided by courts, which set out additional rules for determining a taxpayer’s last known address. Generally, the IRS require to put in effort, due diligence, in ascertaining the correct last known address. This is especially true if the IRS has been told of an incorrect address, because a letter was returned by the US postal service.
It’s been held that a power of attorney submitted to the IRS, on Form 2848, listing a different address than the one on the most recent filed tax return given, is clear notification of a new address. If a notice is not sent to the last known address, it is not valid, and the IRS may in some cases be stopped from collecting taxes. On the other hand, if you get an IRS notice – even if it wasn’t sent to your last known address, it’s not safe to ignore it. An IRS notice, like a Statutory Notice of Deficiency, is considered valid even if it’s received by the taxpayer in time to meet the deadline for responding to the notice.
If you believe a notice wasn’t sent to you at your last known address, then you have the burden of proving that to the IRS, or a court. One of the things our federal tax layers can do is determine whether a notice was sent to the last known address.