IRS Unveils “People First Initiative” During Coronavirus Pandemic

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On March 25, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) launched a new “People First Initiative,” a series of steps the department is taking to provide taxpayer relief during the coronavirus pandemic. This unprecedented move aims to help small businesses and individuals navigate the uncharted territory we’re experiencing is a series of steps that include extending the deadlines on compliance and easing payment guidelines.

Already Existing Installment Agreements

Taxpayers who have worked out an “Installment Agreement” with the IRS will have their payments between April 1 and July 15 suspended. Interest will continue to accrue, but the IRS will not put the accounts in default.

New Installment Agreements

Taxpayers who are unable to pay their federal taxes can enter an installment agreement at IRS.gov.

Offers in Compromise (OIC)

Taxpayers will now have until July 15 to provide additional information for a pending OIC request. The IRS will not close any pending requests before July 1. OIC payments can be suspended until July 15. And for taxpayers who are late in filing their 2018 returns, the IRS won’t default an OIC. Taxpayers should file any delinquent taxes by July 15. New OIC filers seeking a “Fresh Start” should visit IRS.gov.

Non-Filers

Delinquent filers should get up to speed as soon as possible, not least because they may have a return coming to them!

Field Collection Activities

Liens and levies (including property seizure) will be suspended during this time. That doesn’t mean the work of the agency stops, however, as they will likely still pursue high-income non-filers.

Automated Liens and Levies

Automatic liens and levies are suspended during this time.

Passport Certifications to the State Department

The IRS will suspend new certifications to the Department of State for serious delinquencies.

Private Debt Collection

The IRS will not refer delinquent cases to private debt collectors at this time.

Field, Office and Correspondence Audits

New field examinations are suspended. Refund claims will be processed whenever possible.

Earned Income Tax Credit and Wage Verification Reviews

The deadline to respond to the IRS to verify income or that a taxpayer qualifies for the Earned Income Tax Credit is extended until July 15, 2020.

Independent Office of Appeals

Appeals will continue to be processed despite no in-person conferences for taxpayers.

Statute of Limitations

The IRS will work to protect all applicable statutes of limitations.

Practitioner Priority Service

There may be longer than usual wait times for the PPS once the IRS reopens the call centers. The IRS will continue to monitor this as situations develop. As of now, the call centers are closed due to the stay at home order that is in effect across the country.

It’s important to note that these extension deadlines and requirements are subject to change as the situation evolves. Be sure to check with your state’s department of tax, see what they are doing to support taxpayers during the coronavirus crisis.