IRS Updates Status of Service Delays

calendar iconFebruary 23, 2021

The IRS recently updated its website to explain that while mail, tax returns, payments, refunds, and correspondence continue to be opened and processed, COVID-19 continues to cause delays in some areas.

Service delays include:

  • Providing live phone support
  • Processing tax returns filed on paper
  • Answering mail from taxpayers
  • Reviewing tax returns, even if the returns were filed electronically

What You Can Expect

In its update, the IRS provided the current status on some of its main functions.

  • Processing Individual and Business Tax Returns and Amended Returns

The IRS is now opening mail within normal timeframes and has made significant progress in processing returns. However, the IRS noted that it is still processing some returns filed on April 15, 2020. To minimize delays, the IRS is rerouting tax returns and taxpayer correspondence from locations that are behind schedule to locations where more staff is available to process returns. The IRS recommends that taxpayers continue to be patient, and not send a second copy of a tax return that has already been filed unless specifically requested.

  • Mailing Bills or Notices

The IRS is still experiencing a backlog in mailing notices. To save time and money, the IRS did not generate new notices after old ones were sent out with past due payment or response dates. However, the IRS did include an insert with about 10 percent of the outdated mail that provided new or updated dates.

  • Reviewing Correspondence Sent to the IRS

As noted above, the IRS is opening mail within normal timeframes, but processing the responses is taking longer than usual due to social distancing and resource restrictions. All responses are being processed in the order received.

  • Processing Payments

The IRS noted that checks that have been mailed in the last several months may still be in the backlog of unopened mail. Incoming mail is being opened and checks that are being sent now are expected to be processed within 60 days of arrival. The IRS recommends that taxpayers not cancel any checks that have been sent. However, for any checks that do bounce upon processing, the IRS is forgiving the dishonored check penalty if a check has not cleared because of processing delays. This forgiveness applies to payments received from March 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.

For any questions about the state of the IRS or guidance on how to handle returns, payments, and correspondence or other issues related to the IRS, contact your Cherry Bekaert professional or Anne Oliver, Director of Tax Controversy Service.