The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) continues to make strides in getting back to normal.
According to the IRS Commissioner, as of this past Monday, thousands of employees have returned to facilities in seven states (Kentucky, Texas, Utah, Georgia, Minnesota, Tennessee, and Missouri). Employees in four more states and Puerto Rico will reopen on June 29. The IRS will reopen facilities in remaining states on July 13. And, as you can imagine, the IRS is putting an emphasis on telework and plans to continue to encourage it, where possible, for the foreseeable future to ensure social distancing.
Here’s a closer look at some of what’s open or opening soon:
Telephone Lines. Automated phone lines remain available. But if you want to talk to a real person, including the EIP phone line for those who received an EIP letter (Notice 1444), you should expect to wait – though phone lines are open. If you’re looking for an update for your regular tax refund, you can call the automated number at 1-800-829-1954. And before you dial: this line has no information about the status of your stimulus checks (Economic Impact Payments).
Balance Due Notices. The IRS was unable to mail some previously printed balance due notices as a result of office closures. As IRS operations continue to reopen, these notices will be delivered to taxpayers in the next few weeks. Given the time it would take to reprogram IRS systems, and generate updated notices, some of the notices taxpayers will receive have due dates that have already passed. However, each notice will include an insert confirming that the due dates printed on the notices have been extended. I can confirm that the inserts are going out (several of my clients have received them).
Practitioner Priority Service (PPS). My colleagues have been rejoicing about the reopening of the Practitioner Priority Service (PPS) line, but I’ve still not been able to talk to a representative. That may be because the PPS line is open but has limited staffing.
Centralized Authorization File (CAF). The IRS says that it’s processing some Centralized Authorization File (CAF) requests on a limited basis. However, anecdotally, I’ve not spoken with any tax professionals who have managed to get through (my request failed again today). According to the IRS, only the CAF unit at Ogden is operational at this time, which would explain my issues: Ogden services mostly west coast taxpayers.
Web services. IRS.gov remains open. That means:
- Practitioners with e-Services accounts and client authorization can access the Transcript Delivery System (TDS) to obtain taxpayer transcripts. However, there is no mechanism for automatically registering a Form 2848 that has not previously been processed; you’ll have to call PPS to get those transcripts (insert lots of swearing here)
- Taxpayers can also access “Where’s My Refund?” and “Get Transcript Online.”
- Taxpayers can check the status of their Economic Impact Payment at Get My Payment, their refund status at Where’s My Refund? or obtain a tax transcript at Get Transcript Online.
- Taxpayers also can make tax payments through Direct Pay.
- Taxpayers who previously have been issued an Identity Protection PIN but lost it must use the Get an IP PIN tool to retrieve their numbers.
Taxpayer Protection Program: If you received correspondence (Letters 5071C, 5447C, or 5747C) from the IRS asking if you filed a suspicious tax return, you can use the online Identity Verification Service to validate your identity. If you received a Letter 4883C, follow its instructions. While online services are available, phone assistance is limited.
Office of Chief Counsel. The Office of Chief Counsel continues to work to resolve litigation cases, including those recently canceled by the U.S. Tax Court. Although Counsel is not meeting with taxpayers or their representatives in face-to-face meetings or taking depositions, attorneys are available to discuss their cases by telephone. The Office of Chief Counsel has also been working cases at the Settlement Days program: they’re turning virtual.
Independent Office of Appeals. Appeals employees are continuing to work their cases. Appeals is not currently holding in-person conferences with taxpayers, but conferences may be held over the telephone or by videoconference. I can confirm that this is happening: I had an appeals conference by phone this week.
Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) Local Numbers. TAS is open, in theory, to receive phone calls at the local phone numbers (visit taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov to find yours). I have personally not had any success reaching anyone (I have been able to leave voice mail messages).
Tax-exempt Sector Determinations, Rulings, and Closing Agreements. The IRS continues to process applications for recognition of tax exemption for exempt organizations and continues to work rulings and determinations for employees plans and closing agreements for municipal issuers (this does not include paper applications for tax exemption and paper filed information returns submitted after March 26, 2020).
Paper Tax Returns: The IRS is experiencing delays in processing paper tax returns due to limited staffing, but they are beginning to process paper returns. You can read more here.
Electronic Lien Processing. The IRS is processing all electronically submitted lien certificate applications normally and assigning them within 10 days. The IRS requests that taxpayers use the E-Fax line for our ACR site (844-201-8382) for certificates such as discharge of property from the federal tax lien; withdrawal of the notice of federal tax lien; and subordination of the federal tax lien.
Tax Court. Okay, it’s not technically IRS, but it’s related. While the Tax Court building remains closed to visitors (and all trial sessions through June 30, 2020, are canceled), Court proceedings are currently be conducted remotely. Additionally, the IRS has issued guidance (Notice 2020-23) that extends the deadline to file a Tax Court petition and a notice of appeal from a Tax Court decision. If the statutory deadline to file falls on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020, the filing deadline is now extended to July 15, 2020.
And here’s a look at what’s not open:
Services by mail. The “Get Transcript by Mail” is not operational since the offices that print and mail the transcripts are closed.
Most other mail processes. The IRS is receiving and storing mail, but as noted, there is a significant backlog so expect delays. Officially they say, “our mail processing functions have been scaled back to comply with social distancing recommendations.” In some cases, correspondence sent to IRS offices may be returned to the taxpayer if that office is closed, and no one is available to accept them.
Most phone lines. As noted earlier, some specific phone lines have resumed service, but most have not.
U.S. Residency Certification: The Philadelphia Accounts Management Campus is closed, so the U.S. Residency Certification Program’s processing is temporarily suspended.
Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) Toll-Free Number and Walk-in Services. The centralized toll-free number is unavailable until further notice. Additionally, there are no walk-in services. A message on the website reads, “Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) employees are teleworking, sheltering at home and working to serve our taxpayers. We are experiencing delays and interruptions in working cases due to IRS services being limited. These limited services are also causing a high call volume to our organization resulting in delays in our response times. Please be patient.”
Ordering Forms: The IRS’s National Distribution Center cannot take any orders for forms or publications to be mailed during this time. Most forms and publications are available for download electronically at IRS.gov/forms.
Paper Lien Processing. The IRS is not currently processing lien certificate applications mailed to the Advisory Consolidated Receipts (ACR) site in Florence, Kentucky. The IRS is working to restore mail service.
Check back for updates and more information.