On August 13, 2020, the IRS placed a notification on their website reminding taxpayers and tax professionals to use electronic options to support social distancing and speed processing of tax returns, refunds, and payments.
To protect the public and employees, and in compliance with orders of local health authorities around the country, certain IRS services such as live assistance on telephones, processing paper tax returns, and responding to correspondence continue to be extremely limited. Any tax return which requires review, whether it was filed electronically or on paper, may also take longer because many review processes cannot be done virtually.
IRS.gov remains the best source for questions about tax law, refund status, and tax payments.
Automated phone lines that handle most taxpayer calls remain available. All IRS toll-free phone lines supported by customer service representatives for both taxpayers and tax professionals are also available. However, callers should continue to expect long waits due to limited staffing.
Taxpayers who mail tax returns and other correspondence to the IRS during this period should expect longer than usual for a response. While the IRS is receiving mail, mail processing functions remain scaled back to comply with social distancing recommendations. The IRS’ ability to correspond with taxpayers about a variety of issues including requests for information needed to process a tax return remains limited.
As the phased-in resumption of operations have resumed, IRS is now working through its correspondence backlog.
Pending Check Payments and Payment Notices
If a taxpayer mailed a check, either with or without a tax return, it may still be unopened in the backlog of mail the IRS is processing due to COVID-19. Any payments will be posted as the date received rather than the date the agency processed them. To avoid penalties and interest, taxpayers should not cancel their checks and should ensure funds continue to be available so the IRS can process them.
To provide fair and equitable treatment, the IRS is providing relief from bad check penalties for dishonored checks the agency received between March 1 and July 15 due to delays in this IRS processing. However, interest and penalties may still apply.
Due to high call volumes, the IRS suggests waiting to contact the agency about any unprocessed paper payments still pending. See IRS payments for options to make payments other than by mail.
Notice Mailings – Some Due Dates Extended to Help Taxpayers
The IRS began mailing backlogged letters and notices to taxpayers in the agency’s steps to return to normal operations. Because of the COVID-19 shutdown, many of the notices were mailed with past due payment or response dates. To save time and costs, the IRS in most cases will not generate a new notice. Instead, the IRS will include Notice 1052, Important! You Have More Time to Make Your Payment, as an insert that will provide a new, updated pay or response date. Please read the insert carefully. It explains why the notice was delayed and, more importantly, provides a new date in which to pay or respond. Below are key points recipients should note when the notice is received. They should:
- Review the last page of the insert to determine if there is a new due date.
- Disregard the notices if steps have already been taken to resolve the issue.
- Visit IRS.gov/coronavirus for more information.
- Contact the IRS using the number on the notice if you have additional questions. Keep in mind that phone lines remain extremely busy as the IRS resumes operations.
Extended Due Dates
The expired payment due dates printed on the notices were extended, as described in the insert. The new payment due date was either July 10, 2020, or July 15, 2020, depending upon the type of tax return and original due date.
More than 20 million notices were mailed since early June with either the appropriate insert or with current dates. Due to an error, affecting a fraction of these notices, about 11,000 notices were sent without the insert. Upon discovery, the IRS immediately began reaching out to these taxpayers providing them with the appropriate information regarding the corrected due dates for a response to the notice and have updated our systems accordingly. All notices that were previously held as a result of the temporary closure have been mailed. As such, this should not be a reoccurring issue.