As reported by the Internal Revenue Service on May 18, 2020, the IRS continues to protect the public and its 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 are extremely limited. All Taxpayer Assistance Centers remain temporarily closed as are many volunteer tax preparation sites until further notice.
Although the tax filing deadline has been extended to July 15, 2020, from April 15, the IRS continues to process electronic tax returns, issue direct deposit refunds and accept electronic payments. All taxpayers should file electronically through their tax preparer, tax software provider or IRS Free File if possible. The IRS is not currently able to process individual paper tax returns. If you already have filed via paper but it has not yet been processed, do not file a second tax return or write to the IRS to inquire about the status of your return or your economic impact payment. Paper returns will be processed once processing centers are able to reopen.
The IRS’s National Distribution Center is closed until further notice and is not able to take any orders for forms or publications to be mailed during this time. IRS.gov remains the best source for tax law questions, checks on refund status and tax payments. Tax transcripts are only available online currently. Taxpayers also can make tax payments through Direct Pay. Taxes due must be paid by July 15. The Interactive Tax Assistant can help answer tax law questions. There currently are no email options that will generate answers to questions posed by taxpayers. Publication 5136, IRS Services Guide, is a good source of information.
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.
Automated phone lines: which handle most taxpayer calls – also will remain available during this period. Some tax compliance lines also remain available. IRS phone lines supported by customer service representatives for both taxpayers and tax professionals are not staffed at this time. To check on regular tax refund status via automated phone, call 800-829-1954. (This line has no information on Economic Impact Payments.)
While the IRS is receiving and storing mail, our mail processing functions have been scaled back to comply with social distancing recommendations. Currently, we have reduced responses to paper correspondence. Our primary concern is serving taxpayers as indicated in the People First Initiative, which includes numerous actions to alleviate taxpayer burden during this time.
Taxpayers who mail correspondence to the IRS during this period should expect to wait longer than usual for a response. Once normal operations resume it will take the IRS time to work through any correspondence backlog. Correspondence sent to IRS offices may be returned to the taxpayer if that office is closed and no one is available to accept them.
Statute of limitations issues. The IRS will continue working cases where a statute of limitation is pending. In some of these situations, the IRS will work with the taxpayer or their representative to obtain an extension of the statute.
At this time, Appeals employees will continue to work their cases. Although Appeals is not currently holding in-person conferences with taxpayers, conferences may be held over the telephone or by video conference. To the extent they can, taxpayers are encouraged to promptly respond to any outstanding requests for information for all cases in the Independent Office of Appeals.
Currently, Taxpayer Advocate Services remains open to receive phone calls at the local phone numbers but has suspended walk-in services in their offices and their toll-free centralized number is unavailable until further notice. Please visit taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov to locate your local office phone number.
There are other numerous other services that are still being modified accordingly during this challenging environment, and the Internal Revenue Service is doing their best.
Dwayne J. Briscoe
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