Big News As IRS Opens Taxpayer Phone Lines & More

Taxes

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) continues to resume operations.

According to the IRS Commissioner, as of mid-month, thousands of employees had returned to facilities in seven states (Kentucky, Texas, Utah, Georgia, Minnesota, Tennessee, and Missouri) with employees in four more states and Puerto Rico returning on June 29. The IRS will reopen facilities in remaining states on July 13. And, as you can imagine, the IRS is putting an emphasis on telework and plans to continue to encourage it, where possible, for the foreseeable future to ensure social distancing. 

Here’s a closer look at some of what’s open or opening soon:

Telephone Lines. Automated phone lines are available to handle calls. But the big news is this: all IRS toll-free phone lines supported by customer service representatives for taxpayers and tax professionals are also now available. You should expect to wait, however, due to limited staffing. 

If you’re looking for an update for your regular tax refund, you can call the automated number at 800.829.1954. And before you dial: this line has no information about the status of your stimulus checks (Economic Impact Payments). For those, call 800.919.9835. 

Balance Due Notices. The IRS was unable to mail some previously printed balance due notices as a result of office closures. These notices will be delivered to taxpayers in the next few weeks. Some of the notices will have due dates that have already passed. However, each notice will include an insert confirming that the due dates printed on the notices have been extended. I can confirm that the inserts are going out (several of my clients have received them). You can read more here.

Practitioner Priority Service (PPS). The PPS line is open but has limited staffing so practitioners may have to wait. I can confirm that they are answering phones (the best time to call seems to be in the morning).

Centralized Authorization File (CAF). The IRS is working to return to regular Centralized Authorization File (CAF) processing operations. The CAF units at Memphis and Ogden are operational at this time. The IRS asks that you not send the same request for access to a taxpayer’s account more than once.

Web services. IRS.gov remains open. That includes:

  • Practitioners with e-Services accounts and client authorization can access the Transcript Delivery System (TDS) to obtain taxpayer transcripts.
  • Taxpayers can also access “Where’s My Refund?” and “Get Transcript Online.”
  • Taxpayers can check their Economic Impact Payment status at Get My Payment, their refund status at Where’s My Refund, or obtain a tax transcript at Get Transcript Online
  • Taxpayers also can make tax payments through Direct Pay.
  • 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. 

Taxpayer Protection Program: If you received correspondence (Letters 5071C, 5447C, or 5747C) from the IRS asking if you filed a suspicious tax return, you can use the online Identity Verification Service to validate your identity. If you received a Letter 4883C, follow its instructions. While online services are available, phone assistance is limited.

Office of Chief Counsel. The Office of Chief Counsel continues to work to resolve litigation cases, including those recently canceled by the U.S. Tax Court. Although Counsel is not meeting with taxpayers or their representatives in face-to-face meetings or taking depositions, attorneys are available to discuss their cases by telephone. The Office of Chief Counsel has also been working cases at the Settlement Days program: they’re turning virtual.

Independent Office of Appeals. Appeals employees are continuing to work their cases. The Appeals Office is not currently holding in-person conferences with taxpayers, but meetings may be held over the telephone or by videoconference. I can confirm that this is happening: I had an appeals conference by phone.

Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) Local Numbers. TAS is open, in theory, to receive phone calls at the local phone numbers (visit taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov to find yours). I have personally not had any success reaching anyone, but I have been able to leave voice mail messages.

Tax-exempt Sector Determinations, Rulings, and Closing Agreements. The IRS continues to process applications for recognition of tax exemption for exempt organizations and continues to work rulings and determinations for employees plans and closing agreements for municipal issuers. This does not include paper applications for tax exemption and paper filed information returns submitted after March 26, 2020. 

Paper Tax Returns: The IRS is experiencing delays in processing paper tax returns due to limited staffing, but they are beginning to process paper returns. You can read more here.

Electronic Lien Processing. The IRS is processing all electronically submitted lien certificate applications normally and assigning them within 10 days. The IRS requests that taxpayers use the E-Fax line for certificates such as discharge of property from the federal tax lien; withdrawal of the notice of federal tax lien; and subordination of the federal tax lien.

Tax Court. Okay, it’s not technically IRS, but it’s related. The Tax Court building remains closed to visitors. Mail delivery will resume on July 10, 2020. Also, beginning July 10, 2020, documents may be deposited in a drop box at the building’s entrance. Mail sent by standard delivery of the United States Postal Service has been held during the Tax Court building’s closure. Additionally, if the statutory deadline for filing a petition or notice of appeal falls on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020, the filing deadline is now extended to July 15, 2020.

Taxpayer Assistance Centers. This week, the IRS began opening its Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs) to the public in phases. Taxpayers who need in-person assistance at a TAC will need to call 844.545.5640 to make an appointment. Appointments will be available if people need assistance for authentication of identity and document validation related to tax return filing or application for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number; Sailing Clearances required for foreign travel by resident and non-resident aliens leaving the United States; assistance with Economic Impact Payment Issues; and cash payments. 

And here’s a look at what’s not open:

Services by mail. The “Get Transcript by Mail” is not operational since the offices that print and mail the transcripts are closed.

Most other mail processes. The IRS is receiving and storing mail, but as noted, there is a significant backlog, so expect delays. 

U.S. Residency Certification: The Philadelphia Accounts Management Campus is closed, so the U.S. Residency Certification Program’s processing is temporarily suspended. 

Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) Toll-Free Number and Walk-in Services. All in-person TAS offices are closed. You can call TAS at 877.777.4778 or visit taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov to locate your local office phone number. 

Ordering Forms: Most forms and publications are available for download electronically at IRS.gov/forms. The IRS’s National Distribution Center is closed, but orders may be placed online at Order Forms & Publications after July 19. Taxpayers without access to the internet can call 800.829.3676 to request forms by mail.

Paper Lien Processing. The IRS is not currently processing lien certificate applications mailed to the Advisory Consolidated Receipts (ACR) site in Florence, Kentucky. The IRS is working to restore service. 

Check back for updates and more information.

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