The world of the IRS is confusing. Here's a head-spinning overview.
This is the Taxpayer Advocate Service Roadmap of IRS processes. (It looks sort of like a map of a public transportation system with stations and stops.) On the IRS website (click above) it's interactive. For example, if you receive a notice or letter, you can search by number for the activities associated with that type of letter. Or, if you want more information about a particular area, you can click on a section/station to see a more detailed list of activities. It's intended to help taxpayers understand and navigate, from a high level viewpoint, the stages of the journey through the IRS system: tax preparation, return processing, audit, appeals, litigation, and collection.
The roadmap can be a guide for following the route of the most basic processes such as what happens to your returns when they are filed; and the more complex processes such as when you receive a collection notice. If you're a do-it-yourself person, this information might be helpful to resolve your tax problem. Before you begin that journey, though, I advise taking aspirin regularly until the journey is complete.
There's another way to take the journey and that's where my expertise and experience comes in. Even with me as your guide, you will still benefit from knowing where the journey takes us. My job is to reduce your need for the aspirin.