Remember the flurry of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) notices that got sent out in mid-November? Many of those notices – especially those notices of intent to levy (CP504) – were sent out without regard for individual taxpayers circumstances with tax practitioners reporting receipt by taxpayers previously marked as CNC (currently not collectible), taxpayers with pending offers, and taxpayers who have already resolved liabilities.

Many practitioners – like me – responded by reaching out to Congress and demanding action.

It appears that Congress heard our pleas. A group of senators have sent a letter to the IRS, asking for some relief.

The letter, which is addressed to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, begins, “The pandemic has created unique challenges for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), tax practitioners, and taxpayers alike. It is clear that Americans need a concerted effort by the IRS to work in good faith with them to address the challenges facing taxpayers during this pandemic.”

The letter urges that “more action is needed to alleviate the burdens placed on taxpayers and their advisors.”

That action includes a COVID-related First Time Abatement option; written guidance that would allow IRS representatives to grant reasonable cause and COVID-related abatement requests; and a dedicated telephone number to request COVID-related penalty relief.

And that mail backlog – the one that stands at 3 million pieces? The senators asked the IRS to consider stopping sending correspondence until the backlog is resolved.

“Taxpayers expect fair treatment from their government, and the current unwillingness to provide an expedited process for taxpayers and their advisors to request pandemic-specific relief places an undue burden on them,” the senators advised.

Fourteen senators signed the letter. They are:

Kevin Cramer (R-ND)
John Kennedy (R-LA)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)
Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Mark Warner (D-VA)
Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD)
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Thom Tillis (R-NC)
John Boozman (R-AR)
M. Michael Rounds (R-SD)
Joni K. Ernst (R-IA)
Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)
Thomas R. Carper (D-DE)

(Yep, I’m wondering why literally dozens of other senators didn’t seem think this was a priority.)

You can read the letter here (downloads as a PDF).

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

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