You need to file a protest within the time allowed in the notice of assessment (the tax bill) by certified mail to the IRS. The assessment notice should have included a copy of Publication 5 "Your Appeal Rights and How to File a Protest if You Don't Agree" or you can find the Publication at the IRS website www.irs.gov. I recommend the assistance of a tax attorney or CPA familiar with the appeals process.
As Mr. Durr indicates, you respond to the assessment, then make a formal request and cite the applicable revenue procedures and code references that justify the request for first-time abatement.
Evan A. Nielsen is licensed to practice law in California and handles federal tax matters throughout the U.S. The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice for a particular matter. This response does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult an attorney.
I just wanted to add that the First Time Abatement applies to penalties so the interests arising from your tax liability will still need to be paid.
As Mr. Durr and Mr. Nielsen indicated, a memorandum in writing stating the reasons for the abatement of penalties such as reasonable cause would probably be the most effective method to request an abatement. The memorandum should list the supporting authorities for the abatement including the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM). It is best that you contact a CPA or Tax Attorney to write this memorandum for you. In the meantime, a good start for understanding reasonable cause and other types of reasons for abatement is located at http://www.irs.gov/irm/part20/irm_20-001-001r.html. Best of luck to you.
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I would submit a form 843 along with a your written request for Penalty Abatement. You can find the form and instructions on www.irs.gov
Anastatia Quirk Ellis, Esq. is licensed to practice law in Florida, Massachusetts and U.S. Tax Court, This answer is provided as general information and does not initiate an attorney-client relationship.