In a press release dated March 25, 2020, the IRS joined other federal agencies in responding to the Coronavirus pandemic. In something that the IRS is calling the “People First Initiative”, the IRS announced changes to certain compliance and collection programs.
IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said:
IRS employees care about our people and our country, and they have a strong desire to help improve this situation. 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.
Taxpayers who previously signed Installment Agreements with the IRS will not be required to make payments between April 1, 2020, and July 15, 2020.
In addition, the IRS will not take any action to default a taxpayer during this time. However, a taxpayer who can make the payments required under an Installment Agreement should continue to make those payments. Interest will accrue during this period on any unpaid balances.
A taxpayer who is currently negotiating an offer in compromise with the IRS will have until July 15, 2020, to provide the IRS with any outstanding information request.
In addition, a taxpayer with an accepted offer in compromise may suspend any payments thereunder until July 15, 2020. However, interest continues to accrue. The IRS will not default a taxpayer under an existing offer in compromise for failure to file delinquent tax returns. However, 2018 and 2019 tax returns should be filed by July 15, 2020.
Any liens and levies initiated by a field revenue officer will be suspended until July 15, 2020. However, field revenue officers will continue to pursue high-income non-filers.
New automatic, systemic liens and levies will be suspended until July 15, 2020.
The IRS will not start new audits until after July 15, 2020. However, this will not apply if the delay would impact the statute of limitations.
The IRS will continue to work on open audits. However, in-person meetings will be suspended during this time. A taxpayer should not ignore outstanding requests for information but should respond to any request received before the date of the press release.
The appeals process is not suspended but will proceed remotely. Appeals is not holding in-person conferences but will be conducting conferences over the phone or via videoconference.
The IRS will not allow any statute of limitation to expire. If a limitations period is in jeopardy of expiring, the IRS will ask the taxpayer to agree to an extension. If the taxpayer refuses, the IRS will issue a Notice of Deficiency to protect its rights.
In closing, Commissioner Rettig said:
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. 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.
Taxpayers who have experience with the IRS may be surprised to learn that the IRS cares about taxpayers.
Please note that the IRS has not closed during the Coronavirus pandemic. It is still open for business. The IRS will take whatever action it deems necessary to protect its rights. It is important that you remain diligent and do the same.
We will continue to update you as we become aware of new information.