WASHINGTON – To help people facing the challenges of COVID-19 issues, the Internal Revenue Service announced today 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.
“The IRS is taking extraordinary steps to help the people of our country,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “In addition to extending tax deadlines and working on new legislation, the IRS is pursuing unprecedented actions to ease the burden on people facing tax issues. During this difficult time, we want people working together, focused on their well-being, helping each other and others less fortunate.”
“The new IRS People First Initiative provides immediate relief to help people facing uncertainty over taxes,” Rettig added “We are temporarily adjusting our processes to help people and businesses during these uncertain times. We are facing this together, and we want to be part of the solution to improve the lives of all people in our country.”
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. The IRS will be temporarily modifying the following activities as soon as possible; the projected start date will be April 1 and the effort will initially run through July 15. During this period, 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.
“IRS employees care about our people and our country, and they have a strong desire to help improve this situation,” Rettig said. “These new actions reflect just one of many ways our employees are working hard every day to assist the nation. We care, a lot. IRS employees are actively engaged, and they have always delivered for their communities and our country. The People First Initiative is designed to help people take care of themselves and is a key part of our ongoing response to the coronavirus effort.”
More specifics about the implementation of these provisions will be shared soon. Highlights of the key actions in the IRS People First Initiative include:
Existing Installment Agreements – For taxpayers under an existing Installment Agreement, payments due between April 1 and July 15, 2020 are suspended. Taxpayers who are currently unable to comply with the terms of an Installment Payment Agreement, including a Direct Deposit Installment Agreement, may suspend payments during this period if they prefer. Furthermore, the IRS will not default any Installment Agreements during this period. 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 IRS.gov for further information.
Offers in Compromise (OIC) – The IRS is taking several steps to assist taxpayers in various stages of the OIC process:
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.
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.
Field, Office and Correspondence Audits – During this period, the IRS will generally not start new field, office and correspondence examinations. We 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.
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. Taxpayers are encouraged to promptly respond to any outstanding requests for information for all cases in the Independent Office of Appeals.
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.
Practitioner Priority Service – Practitioners are reminded that, depending on staffing levels and allocations going forward, there may be more significant wait times for the PPS. The IRS will continue to monitor this as situations develop.
“The IRS will continue to review and, where appropriate, modify or expand the People First Initiative as we continue reviewing our programs and receive feedback from others,” Rettig said. “We are committed to helping people get through this period, and our employees will remain focused on these and other helpful efforts in the days and weeks ahead. I ask for your personal support, your understanding – and your patience – as we navigate our way forward together. Stay safe and take care of your families, friends and others.”
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
IRS Announces Changes To Installment Agreements, Offers in Compromise, Field, Office, & Correspondence Audits
Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Tax Scams Proliferate During Filing Season
The filing season is the most active time of the year for tax scams. These scams take every shape and form, ranging from telephone calls to individuals to sophisticated schemes targeting employers and businesses. The goal of all these scams is identity theft. Using legitimate identities of unsuspecting individuals allows criminals to file fraudulent returns and claim bogus refunds.
Phone and email scams are among the most common scams. Every day, individuals receive calls and emails from criminals pretending to be IRS employees. Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. Criminals use IRS employee titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may also use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official. The phone calls often threaten legal action or arrest if the taxpayers do not immediately make a payment, usually with a debit or gift card. Taxpayers receiving threatening telephone calls should hang up immediately. The IRS will never demand immediate payment using a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. The IRS also will never threaten arrest.
Email scams often ask recipients to provide personal and financial information in order “to verify” a tax obligation or claim a “refund.” The emails appear to be genuine communications from the IRS. Criminals create websites that appear legitimate in the hope that individuals will take the bait and provide money, passwords, Social Security numbers and other personal information. Scam emails also can infect a taxpayer’s computer with malware. The malware can give criminals access to the computer, laptop tablet, or other device, enabling them to access all sensitive files or track keyboard strokes, exposing login information. The IRS has repeatedly emphasized that it never initiates contact with taxpayers via email about a bill or refund. Taxpayers should delete these emails immediately.
Criminals are increasing disguising emails to make it appear as if the email is from a company or organization executive. Typically, this email is sent to an employee in the payroll or human resources departments, requesting a list of all employees and their Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. This scam is sometimes referred to as business email compromise (BEC) or business email spoofing (BES). This scam targets all types of businesses: school districts, tribal casinos, chain restaurants, temporary staffing agencies, healthcare, and shipping and freight. Businesses that received the scam email last year also are reportedly receiving it again this year. The IRS has asked employers and businesses to forward these bogus emails to the agency at email@example.com.
The IRS is making progress in identifying and curbing tax-related identity theft, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). The IRS and tax professionals and the tax software community have joined together to better protect taxpayer information. The agency has upgraded its return processing identity theft filters and taken other behind the scenes measures to uncover fraudulent returns. All of these measures, TIGTA reported in February, have helped to deter tax-related identity theft but criminals continue to look for ways to trick taxpayers and the IRS.
Please contact our office at (630) 986-0540 if you have any questions about filing season tax scams.
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