IRS Service Issues Continue
Many of us taxpayers and tax practitioners began experiencing service issues with the IRS right about the time the pandemic hit in early 2020. Like most employers, the IRS was forced to send most of its workers home at a time when its workload was at approaching its peak. Moreover, the Service was forced to quickly administer many new programs, economic impact payments, and alternate filing deadlines initiated by COVID-19 legislation.
Unfortunately, the IRS is still a “high touch” business that requires the processing of hundreds of thousands of paper documents and communicating by telephone and mail with tens of thousands of taxpayers each day. So, having mail piling up in service center parking lots while employees are working from home has been a predictable, yet unavoidable, disaster. And, because many of these paper documents (tax returns, various refund claims, and responses to tax notices) represent very real financial consequences to taxpayers, patience is wearing thin.
According to a recent article from Accounting Today, it does not appear that we are anywhere close to a return to normal. Thus, you can continue to expect incorrect tax notices, delayed responses, and delayed refunds until such time that the IRS can catch up on processing its backlog of paper documents.
Tips for coping:
- File electronically every tax return that you can. Electronic filings require far less manual processing and ought to result in quicker processing of the returns and corresponding refund claims.
- If you receive a tax notice that merits a response, mail a timely response as you normally would. Understand that most tax notices are computer-generated, so, if you receive follow up correspondence that suggests that your first response has not been received, do not panic. Beyond your initial response, there is probably nothing further that you can do to resolve the inquiry at this time. A fallback option is to contact the IRS at the telephone number listed on the notice. I recommend you call at 7:00am when the call centers open in order to avoid long hold times.
- Be patient. Contrary to popular belief, the IRS works fairly well with taxpayers and practitioners. All tax notices, returns, and other issues will be settled, but it is just going to take time.