A couple of months ago I filed the 2012 tax returns. I was expecting a few thousands USD for a refund. Finally, the payment was received in my bank account, and I noticed that the actual refund was about $180 more than my estimates.

Every year I am preparing the returns with a self-prepared spreadsheet, which is verified by the calculations made by Free File Fillable Forms application in the IRS website.

Since the basic application calculation matches my spreadsheet calculation to the dollar, I am concluding that the $180 difference comes from my (mis)understanding of one, or some of the rules (like, which choices I should have made, etc.).

Is there a way to get a detailed calculation of the corrected IRS estimate, for educational purposes?

  • Surely you mean 2012 return? You can ask the IRS for a copy of the transcript of your tax return but it will not contain a description of where the IRS came up with different numbers than yours. Dec 1, 2013 at 20:38

1 Answer 1


If the IRS changes your return in any way (including math errors) - they send a letter explaining the change and the reasons for it. You should read that letter, it will answer your question (Usually its a CP12 notice). If you didn't receive it - you can call them and ask to resend it (they're unlikely to answer over the phone, but you can try asking).

I'm confused by your using the word "estimate". Your tax return is not supposed to be estimate, it supposed to be precise. Why are you considering your tax return "estimate"? If your filed tax return shows refund of $X and you received $X+$180 - then as I said, a letter of explanation from the IRS is due. If you don't know what the refund amount on your return is and you're trying to "estimate" it now - you better get a copy of that return.

  • Thanks. Indeed, "estimate" here is not a very successful choice of words. It is supposedly accurate.
    – ysap
    Dec 1, 2013 at 21:12
  • I guess I'll wait for their CP12 form, then.
    – ysap
    Dec 1, 2013 at 21:12
  • In Canada, these issues generally result from EI (employment insurance) and CPP (Pension Plan) overpayments. These are particularly common when you have both full time and part time work. Dec 2, 2013 at 18:52
  • Eventually, I received the CP12 form. There is a description of the change and the cause - unfortunately, it does not really help. They say that I should have used Schd. D Worksheet or Qualified Div. Worksheet - but, I DID use the worksheet(s). They also provide the amount I reported, and what they calculated for lines 37, 43 and 61. 37 and 43 show same amounts for me and them, but the concluded total differs. So, no sufficient explanation was provided. I wish they had elaborated on their calculations using the worksheet(s).
    – ysap
    Dec 17, 2013 at 0:30
  • @ysap qualified dividends? From my experience, brokers never get them right on the first 1099, I get 2-3 corrected every year. Maybe you missed a corrected 1099?
    – littleadv
    Dec 17, 2013 at 2:32

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