With a week to go before the tax filing season deadline, many folks may be focusing on July 15, 2020, as the date to mail in payments for the 2019 tax year. But there’s another payment deadline looking: the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is reminding taxpayers who took advantage of the People First Initiative tax relief that they need to restart their payments.

In March of 2020, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig announced the details of the IRS People First Initiative. At the time, Rettig said, “The new IRS People First Initiative provides immediate relief to help people facing uncertainty over taxes.”

The program included options to suspend installment agreements, limit liens and levies, and no new passport certifications to the Department of State for taxpayers who are “seriously delinquent” through July 15, 2020.

Now, however, as the IRS continues to reopen its operations (you can find out more here), taxpayers should start paying again to avoid penalties and a possible default.

If you suspended your installment agreement payments between April 1 and July 15, 2020, you will need to resume payments by your first monthly payment due date after July 15. If you had your bank suspend direct debit payments, contact the bank immediately to ensure that your first monthly payment due date on or after July 15, 2020, is sent to avoid penalties. If you can’t meet your current installment agreement terms due to a COVID-related hardship, you can revise the agreement on IRS.gov/paymentplan or call the customer service number on your IRS notice.

If you previously submitted an Offer In Compromise, but the IRS has not yet responded, you should resume your required payments starting July 15, 2020. The IRS will amend the Offer to allow you to pay any skipped payments at the end if the Offer is accepted.

If you have an Offer in Compromise in place, and you were unable to make the payments because of a COVID-19 hardship, you should resume payments and make up the missed payments by July 15, 2020. If you are unable to make up the missed payments, you can contact the number on your IRS notice.

The IRS did not forward new delinquent accounts to Private Collection Agencies (PCAs) from April 1 through July 15, 2020, and PCA interaction with taxpayers was limited to inbound telephone calls unless otherwise requested. If your PCA payments were on hold, you should now resume payments by July 15. The IRS encourages you to work with your assigned PCA to establish a new payment arrangement or restructure an existing one based on your current situation.

“Through the People First Initiative, we have endeavored to provide unprecedented relief to help those who owed federal taxes and allow them extra time,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “As we resume a phased-in approach to our normal operations, we are sympathetic to the many Americans still suffering COVID-related hardships and stand ready to continue offering help to those who need it.”

Finally, if you are experiencing hardship or you have questions about payments, call the customer service number provided on your notice. Phone lines are open, but you should expect to wait since hold times are long. You can also check out your options through IRS.gov/payments to make one time or recurring payments without having to contact the IRS.

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Kelly Phillips Erb is a tax attorney, tax writer, and podcaster.

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