CITES BY TOPIC:  23C Assessment Certificate
PDF Sample IRS 23C Summary Record of Assessments:
PDF Botta v. Scanlon, 288 F.2d 504, 508 (1961):

"A reasonable construction of the taxing statutes does not include vesting any tax official with absolute power of assessment against individuals not specified in the statutes as a person liable for the tax without an opportunity for judicial review of this status before the appellation of 'taxpayer' is bestowed upon them and their property is seized..."

[Botta v. Scanlon, 288 F.2d. 504, 508 (1961) ]

PDF 2003 IRS Published Products Catalog, Document 7130, p. F-4

Assessment Certificate-Summary Record of Assessments

Form 23-C is used to officially assess tax liabilities.  The completed form is retained in the service center case file as a legal document to support the assessment made against a taxpayer.

PDF Internal Revenue Manual (I.R.M.) Section Account 6120 Individual Income Tax Assessments [Form 1040]  (10-01-2003)
Account 6120 Individual Income Tax Assessments—Principal

  1. This account is used to summarize the total amounts of assessments of tax class 2 Principal as provided by the Internal Revenue Code. The balance of this account represents total tax class 2 principal assessments for the year.

  2. All principal assessments must be recorded on Summary Record of Assessments (Assessment Certificate [IRS Form 23C]). The Assessment Certificate is the legal document that permits collection activity.

  3. Total tax class 2 assessments for the month will be summarized on computer generated Form 2162 which will become the external subsidiary.

26 C.F.R. §301.6203-1:  Method of Assessment:

Title 26: Internal Revenue
In General

301.6203-1   Method of assessment.

The district director and the director of the regional service center shall appoint one or more assessment officers. The district director shall also appoint assessment officers in a Service Center servicing his district. The assessment shall be made by an assessment officer signing the summary record of assessment. The summary record, through supporting records, shall provide identification of the taxpayer, the character of the liability assessed, the taxable period, if applicable, and the amount of the assessment. The amount of the assessment shall, in the case of tax shown on a return by the taxpayer, be the amount so shown, and in all other cases the amount of the assessment shall be the amount shown on the supporting list or record. The date of the assessment is the date the summary record is signed by an assessment officer. If the taxpayer requests a copy of the record of assessment, he shall be furnished a copy of the pertinent parts of the assessment which set forth the name of the taxpayer, the date of assessment, the character of the liability assessed, the taxable period, if applicable, and the amounts assessed.

Curley v. U.S., 791 F. Supp 52 (E.D.N.Y. 1992):

“… [5] Plaintiff relies heavily on Brafman v. United States, 384 F.2d 863 (5th Cir. 1967), where an assessment was invalidated due to the lack of a signature on the 23C Form. This defect, however, was a significant violation of the regulation…

…A signature requirement protects the taxpayer by ensuring that a responsible officer has approved the assessment…” 

[Curley v. U.S., 791 F. Supp 52 (E.D.N.Y. 1992)]

Brewer v. U.S.,  764 F.Supp. 309 (S.D.N.Y. 1991):

 “…However, there is no indication in the record before us that the ‘Summary Report of Assessments’, known as Form 23C, was completed and signed by the assessment officer as required by 26 C.F.R. 301.6203-1.3 Nor do the Certificates of Assessments and Payments contain 23C dates which would allow us to conclude that a Form 23C form was signed on that date. See United States v. Dixon, 672 F. Supp. 503, 505-506 (M.D.Ala.1987). Thus we find that the plaintiff has raised a factual question concerning whether IRS procedures were followed in making the assessments…

“3 This regulation provides, in relevant part, that "[t]he assessment shall be made by an assessment officer signing the summary record of assessment…”

 [Brewer v. U.S.,  764 F.Supp. 309 (S.D.N.Y. 1991)]

Brafman v. United States, 384 F.2d 863 (1967):

“It appears that the requirement of the applicable Treasury Regulation—that an assessment officer sign the assessment certificate—is consistent with the literally mechanical procedure for recording of liability.  The recordation is to be accomplished through “machine operations”, but the actual and final assessment step, that step which establishes a prima facie case of taxpayer liability, can be taken only with the approval of a responsible officer of the Internal Revenue Service.  What is important in any case is that assessment is not automatic upon recordation; it requires the action of an assessment officer.  That action, as defined explicity in the Treasury Regulations, is the signing of the certificate.”

“As the district court said in United States v. Lehigh, W.D.Ark.1961, 201 F.Supp. 224, 234, this is both true and immaterial:

“Any procedural defense is in a sense “technical.”  The procedures set forth in the Internal Revenue Code were prescribed for the protection of both the Government and the taxpayer.  Neglect to comply with those procedures may7 entail consequences which the neglectling party must be prepared to face, whether such party be the taxpayer or the Government.

“Certainly the courts have not hesitated to enforce strictly the Code requirement that a taxpayer’s returns must be signed to be effective.  Thus, unsigned returns, even with remittances, have been viewed as nullities from the standpoint of imposition of penalties and of commencement of the running of the statute of limitations.  It has availed the taxpayer little that his failure to sign was inadvertent.”

“Finally, where state taxation is involved compliance with a statutory provision requiring an assessment list to be signed by the assessors is usually considered essential to the validity of further proceedings.”  84 C.J.S. Taxation 473 (1954).

“Since the assessment certificate in this case was not signed by the proper official, as prescribed by the applicable Treasury Regulation, within the statutory period after the filing of the estate tax return, this suit for collection of any deficiency is barred by the statute of limitations.”  [Brafman v. United States, 384 F.2d 863 (1967)]

Tax Procedure and Tax Fraud in a Nutshell, Patricia Morgan, 1999, West Group, ISBN 0-314-06586-5, p.189:

Assessment of the tax is merely the recording of the liability of the taxpayer on an official list.  I.R.C. 6203.  Technically, assessment is accomplished by a designated assessment officer signing a form (Form 23-C Assessment Certificate) that reflects the taxpayer's name, identification number, the taxable period involved, and the nature and amount of the tax assessed.  The date this form is signed is the date of assessment, and it triggers two new statutes of limitations: the Government has 60 days from the date of assessment in which to notify the taxpayer of the assessment and demand payment, and it has ten years from the date of assessment in which to collect the tax.

The Government may not begin enforced collection activities unless and until it has notified the taxpayer of the assessment and demanded payment.  The Code directs the IRS to make the notice and demand "as soon as practicable" and in no event later than 60 days after the date of assessment.  I.R.C. 6303(a).  The notice is to be delivered to the taxpayer's residence or his usual place of business, or mailed to his "last known address."  (for a discussion of the "last known address."  issue under section 6212(b), see 6.2.6.  The same principles apply in the notice and demand context.)  The taxpayer usually is given ten days from the date of the notice and demand in which to pay the tax.  In practice, the grace period is usually much longer than ten days because IRS computers are programmed to send a series of notices at intervals of three to five weeks warning the taxpayer that if payment is not made a Notice of Federal Tax lien may be filed and there may be a levy placed on the taxpayer's bank accounts, wages and other property.

[Tax Procedure and Tax Fraud in a Nutshell, Patricia Morgan, 1999, West Group, ISBN 0-314-06586-5, p.189]

Internal Revenue Manual, Section (12-01-2003):  Requests for 23C Assessment Records

PDF Acrobat version of Internal Revenue Manual, Section (12-01-2003):  Requests for 23C Assessment Records

  1. To ascertain assessment information, requests may be made for the records used in campus processing of the taxpayer's accounts. These requests may contain language with one or more of the following phrases:

    1. all my information in system of records 24.030

    2. my 23C document

    3. my summary record of assessment

    4. copies of the Form 4340 prepared on me

    5. my section 6203 information

    6. the Summary Record of Assessment and all supporting documentation

    7. my summary of account


  2. Occasionally, requesters submit FOIA requests for such material to be used in the context of IRS enforcement activities. Therefore, responses that merely advise the requester that " there is no Form 23C with your name on it" open the door for the requesters to make a claim that the IRS has not made a valid assessment when challenging a statutory notice of deficiency.

  3. To ensure consistency of treatment, and to avoid misinterpretation of the FOIA response, Disclosure personnel should strictly follow this IRM subsection.

  4. Requests of the type listed above that are received in the field offices should be reviewed and compared to the E-DIMS database. If this is the first such request, the field should respond by providing a transcript of the account and written explanation of the information (Document 11734), where applicable. The response should clearly explain that the information contained in the transcript meets the legal requirement of IRC 6203 and is the equivalent of what was requested.

  5. The requester should also be informed, either by telephone contact or in the response letter, that if he/she insists on a Form 23C (or other information from the list in (1) above), that the request should be resubmitted to the appropriate campus. The address where the requester should submit the request must be provided.

  6. Disclosure personnel can use the Document Locator Number (DLN) for the assessment transaction code to provide information regarding the campus that would have the responsive records.

  7. Field offices that receive subsequent requests for the same type of information (see subsection (1) above) from the same requester, will transfer the request to the appropriate campus as such requests are considered misdirected. Receipt of the subsequent request will be construed to indicate that the requester is now aware of the nature of the information available and still wants the specific product originally requested (Form 23C, Summary Record of Assessment, RACS -006). Since the requester was originally directed to the campus for such products, the current request would be misdirected. Since there may be more than one assessment involved, or more than one tax year involved, it is possible that more than one campus will have to be contacted. Only the appropriate portion of the request should be sent to the appropriate campus.


    Beginning December 8, 2003, the Cincinnati Accounting function will house all historical files related to 23C records assessed by Brookhaven campus functions. The Brookhaven Disclosure office will still process requests for these historical records, so all requests for 23C records related to a Brookhaven campus assessment should still be transferred to the Brookhaven office for a response.

  8. The transfer procedures should be followed, and the contacted campus must accept the transfer. See IRM

  9. When FOIA requests of the above type are received in the campuses, either by transfer or by direct submission from the requester, the Disclosure Officer will work the case and provide responsive records in accordance with the procedures listed in Exhibit 11.3.13–6.

  10. If in all contacts with the requester it appears that the requester does not understand the IRS procedures on assessments, Disclosure personnel will provide additional information as suggested in the sample paragraphs in Exhibit 11.3.13–7.

  11. In all instances, careful wording of the responses (either on the telephone or in writing) to the requester must be used. Even though the Form 23C is rarely used, and there is generally no identifying information on either the signed RACS Automated Summary or the paper Form 23C, Disclosure personnel should avoid making statements like " there are no records responsive to your request."

Internal Revenue Manual (I.R.M.), Exhibit 11.3.13-7:  Response to Requests for 23C

Exhibit 11.3.13-7  (12-01-2003)
Response to Requests for 23C

It is unclear to us what records you are seeking. Your request appears to be based on your understanding that a signed assessment record would contain data about your specific and identifiable assessment(s). Such is not the case.

During processing at the IRS Campus, Summary Records of Assessment are automated listings of an entire day's or week's total amounts processed. They are listed by date, are signed by an authorized assessment officer, but do not contain data that would identify any individual taxpayer. This procedure is in accordance with Federal regulations and is effective in every IRS Campus.

In the rare instances when our automated systems cannot be used (e.g., during power failures or in jeopardy assessments), we do prepare a paper Form 23C, strictly as a backup system. However, even in these instances, the Form 23C is a summary of assessment amounts and thus lacks data specific to any particular person.