If You Move, Let the IRS Know

Your Guide to State, Local, Federal, Estate + International Taxation

When you are moving, you have a million things to worry about and the last thing on your mind is letting the IRS know about your new address. Most of us don’t even think to let the IRS know that we have moved until it comes time to file our next tax return, and most of the time that is just fine. But what if you are waiting on a refund? What if the IRS needs to send you a notice?

If you don’t let the IRS know that you’ve moved, they may send important correspondence to your old address. In this time of increased identity theft, the idea of your mail sitting in someone else’s mailbox isn’t pleasant. If for some reason the Post Office fails to forward the IRS correspondence to you, or only forwards it after a lengthy delay, the consequences could be costly.

To meet its responsibilities in many cases, the IRS doesn’t have to prove delivery. All it has to do is send correspondence to your last known address. The “I never got it” defense is lost if the IRS properly sent the notice to your old address. For example, if you move after filing a return and the IRS mails a refund check to your old address, the refund may be delayed and the IRS won’t owe you any interest for the delay.

Similarly, if the IRS sends a notice of a tax deficiency to your old address, you may never receive it. After 90 days, you could lose the right to contest the matter in the Tax Court. If you do owe tax and are delayed in learning about it, the penalties and interest costs will accrue even though you didn’t know you had an outstanding tax liability.

Once you file a tax return showing your new address, the IRS will make the change itself, but only after the return is processed, which could take many weeks after you file. The IRS is also required to update your address in its files to reflect any permanent forwarding address you give to the U.S. Postal Service, but that updating could take time. To be safe, you should notify IRS of the change directly. To do so, you can fill out Form 8822 and send it to the IRS.

The last thing you need when you’re moving is another hassle, but filing Form 8822 is only a minor hassle and with it comes some peace of mind.

By Michael Anderson