Article

IRS’ People First Initiative Provides Relief to Taxpayers

April 24, 2020

To help people facing the challenges of COVID-19 issues, the Internal Revenue Service has announced a sweeping series of steps to assist taxpayers by providing relief on a variety of issues ranging from easing payment guidelines to postponing compliance actions.

These new changes include issues ranging from postponing certain payments related to Installment Agreements and Offers in Compromise to collection and limiting certain enforcement actions. Additionally, from now at least through July 15, to the maximum extent possible, the IRS will avoid in-person contacts. However, the IRS will continue to take steps where necessary to protect all applicable statutes of limitations.

Highlights of the key actions in the IRS People First Initiative include:

Field, Office and Correspondence Audits

During this period, the IRS will generally not start new field, office and correspondence examinations. The IRS will continue to work refund claims where possible, without in-person contact. However, the IRS may start new examinations where deemed necessary to protect the government’s interest in preserving the applicable statute of limitations.

  • In-Person Meetings – In-person meetings regarding current field, office and correspondence examinations will be suspended. Even though IRS examiners will not hold in-person meetings, they will continue examinations remotely, where possible.
  • Unique Situations – Particularly for some corporate and business taxpayers, the IRS understands that there may be instances where the taxpayers desire to begin an examination while people and records are available and respective staffs have capacity. In those instances when it’s in the best interest of both parties and appropriate personnel are available, the IRS may initiate activities to move forward with an examination — understanding that COVID-19 developments could later reduce activities for an agreed period.

Independent Office of Appeals

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 videoconference.

Statute of Limitations

The IRS will continue to take steps where necessary to protect all applicable statutes of limitations. In instances where statute expirations might be jeopardized during this period, taxpayers are encouraged to cooperate in extending such statutes. Otherwise, the IRS will issue Notices of Deficiency and pursue other similar actions to protect the interests of the government in preserving such statutes. Where a statutory period is not set to expire during 2020, the IRS is unlikely to pursue the foregoing actions until at least July 15, 2020.

Field Collection Activities

Liens and levies (including any seizures of a personal residence) initiated by field revenue officers will be suspended during this period. However, field revenue officers will continue to pursue high-income non-filers and perform other similar activities where warranted.

Automated Liens and Levies

New automatic, systemic liens and levies will be suspended during this period.

Existing Installment Agreements

For taxpayers under an existing Installment Agreement, payments due between April 1 and July 15, 2020, are suspended. By law, interest will continue to accrue on any unpaid balances.

New Installment Agreements

The IRS reminds people unable to fully pay their federal taxes that they can resolve outstanding liabilities by entering into a monthly payment agreement with the IRS. See the IRS website for further information.

Offers in Compromise (“OIC”)

The IRS is taking several steps to assist taxpayers in various stages of the OIC process:

  • Pending OIC applications – The IRS will allow taxpayers until July 15 to provide requested additional information to support a pending OIC.
  • OIC Payments – Taxpayers have the option of suspending all payments on accepted OICs until July 15, 2020, although by law, interest will continue to accrue on any unpaid balances.

Passport Certifications to the State Department

IRS will suspend new certifications to the Department of State for taxpayers who are “seriously delinquent” during this period. These taxpayers are encouraged to submit a request for an Installment Agreement or, if applicable, an OIC during this period. Certification prevents taxpayers from receiving or renewing passports.

Private Debt Collection

New delinquent accounts will not be forwarded by the IRS to private collection agencies to work during this period.


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