In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Internal Revenue Service has created a program designed to assist people who may be having challenges with filing their taxes during this uncertain time. The program, called the IRS People First Initiative, will include a variety of actions, and an exact timeline for when these actions will be implemented is expected in the coming weeks.
The IRS People First Initiative will include:
- Suspension of Existing Installment Agreements. Payments for taxpayers who have an existing installment agreement with the IRS that are due between April 1 and July 15, 2020 are currently suspended. Installment agreements will not be defaulted upon during this period, but interest will be applied on unpaid balances, according to tax law.
- Creation of New Installation Agreements. Taxpayers who are unable to fulfill their tax obligations can create an installation agreement that allows them to make affordable monthly payments on their balances.
- Making Offers in Compromise, or OICs, Available. The IRS is working with taxpayers in all stages of the OIC process, including those with pending applications, those making OIC payments, those with delinquent return filings and those who are interested in applying for an OIC.
- Recommendations for Non-Filers. The IRS reminds taxpayers that if they have not filed taxes for 2019 or the previous three years, they may still be eligible for an income tax return.
- Suspension of Field Collection Activities. Liens and levies that had previously been initiated by field collection officers will be suspended during this time period.
- Suspension of Automatic Liens and Levies. New liens and levies will be suspended during this time period.
- Suspension of Enforcement of Private Debt Collection. During this time period, the IRS will not be sending delinquent accounts to private debt collection services.
- Suspension of New Audits. It can be expected that the IRS will not be launching new field, office or correspondence audits during this time period, but there may be extenuating circumstances or unique situations that require the IRS to begin an audit that does not include in-person contact.
- Delaying the Deadline of Earned Income Tax Credit and Wage Verification Reviews. Taxpayers now have until July 15, 2020 to submit all necessary paperwork to prove that they qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. Taxpayers who cannot secure documents to prove these qualifications during this time period are encouraged to work directly with the IRS for any additional exceptions.
- Continuation of the Independent Office of Appeals. IRS employees who work for the Independent Office of Appeals will continue their work, however they will be working remotely and will not be scheduling any in-person meetings.
- Protection of Applicable Statute of Limitations. The statutes of limitations that are applicable throughout this period will be protected.
- Additional Wait Times for Practitioner Priority Service. The IRS plans to continuously monitor progress in regards to Practitioner Priority Service, but minimal staffing and additional need may result in higher wait times for those who require this type of service.