IRS People First Initiative for Coronavirus COVID-19 Relief; The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is taking robust initiatives to help its taxpayers, employees as well as partners during the coronavirus outbreak nationwide. In the same regard, the IRS unveiled the new People First Initiative to help taxpayers facing COVID-19 problems and challenges to file their taxes. Today, the IRS announced a sweeping series of steps to assist taxpayers, facing the challenges of COVID-19 issues, by providing relief on a variety of issues ranging from easing payment guidelines to postponing compliance actions. The purpose of IRS People First Initiative is to provide instant relief to the U.S. citizens who face uncertainty over taxes during the health crisis, just as they are facing right now because of coronavirus outbreak and prevalence. The IRS has already extended income tax filing deadline to July15, 2020 and the new IRS People First Initiative for Coronavirus COVID-19 Relief as another milestone to assist taxpayers in combating COVID-19 related issues in filing taxes.

Press Release

IRS Commissioner, Mr. Chuck Rettig, overwhelmed on the unveiling of People First Initiative to help taxpayers during coronavirus crises and said,

The IRS is taking extraordinary steps to help the people of our country. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

New Changes in IRS People First Initiative for Coronavirus Relief

The new changes in the IRS People First Initiative for Coronavirus COVID-19 Relief cover various issues that including postponing certain payments associated to Installment Agreements and Offers in Compromise to collection in addition to limiting certain enforcement actions. The IRS further says that it will be temporarily modifying the following activities as soon as possible. April 1, 2020 will be the projected start date and the effort will primarily run through July 15, 2020. Moreover, the IRS will avoid in-person contacts to the maximum possible extent during this period. On the other hand, for the protection of all applicable statutes of limitations, the IRS will continue to take steps where needed. The key actions in the IRS People First Initiative to help taxpayers as coronavirus tax relief are highlighted in detail. However, more precise information about the implementation of these provisions will be shared soon by the agency. For now, the basic actions in the IRS People First Initiative are:

1.      Installment Agreements

Changes to the installment agreements have also been made to provide relief to the taxpayers during coronavirus pandemic.

a.      Existing Installment Agreements

  • For taxpayers under an existing Installment Agreement, those payments that are due between April 1 and July 15, 2020 are suspended.
  • If the taxpayers who are currently not able to comply with the terms of an Installment Payment Agreement, they may suspend payments during this period if they have a preference. Direct Deposit Installment Agreement is also included in this regard.
  • During the period, the IRS will not default any Installment Agreements.
  • However, interest will continue to accrue on any unpaid balances by law.

b.      New Installment Agreements

  • Is the taxpayers are unable to fully pay their federal taxes, the IRS reminds them to resolve outstanding liabilities by starting a monthly payment agreement with the agency.
  • New installment agreements can be set up by the taxpayer via online or over the telephone with the IRS.

2.      Offers In Compromise (OIC)

To assist taxpayers in various stages of the Offers in Compromise OIC process, the IRS is make strategies along with taking several steps. The key actions include:

a.      Pending OIC Applications

  • The IRS provides extension to the taxpayers to provide additional information in support of a pending offer, until July 15, 2020.
  • Furthermore, without the taxpayer’s consent, the IRS will not close any pending OIC request prior to July 15, 2020.

b.      OIC Payments

  • The IRS provides option to the taxpayers for suspending all payments on accepted OICs until July 15, 2020.
  • By law interest will continue to accrue on any unpaid balances due on taxpayer.

c.       Delinquent Return Filings

  • The IRS will not default an OIC for those taxpayers who are delinquent in filing their tax returns for the tax year 2018.
  • Yet, the IRS advices taxpayers to file any delinquent 2018 return (and their 2019 return) on or before July 15, 2020.

d.      New OIC Applications

  • The IRS reminds those people who are facing a liability more than their net worth about the OIC process, which is designed to resolve outstanding tax liabilities by providing a “Fresh Start.”
  • New OIC submissions can still be submitted to the IRS.

3.      Non-Filers

The IRS also announces relief for non-filers during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in USA. The benefits for non-filers in IRS People First Initiative cover:

  • The IRS reminds people that that they should file their delinquent returns if they have not filed their return for tax years before 2019.
  • More than 1 million households in fact owed refunds that haven’t filed tax returns during the last three years. It means that they still have time to claim their refunds that can help them in coronavirus issues.
  • The IRS further asks taxpayers to contact a tax professional for considering a variety of available options as the time for receiving these refunds is limited by statute.
  • After successfully filing delinquent returns, the taxpayers can also enter into an Installment Agreement or an Offer in Compromise with the IRS to obtain a “Fresh Start” for the resolution of outstanding tax liabilities.

4.      Field Collection Activities

  • Those Liens and levies, along with any seizures of a personal residence, initiated by field revenue officers will be suspended during this period.
  • Conversely, field revenue officers will carry on to pursue high-income non-filers along with performing additional similar activities where warranted.

5.      Automated Liens and Levies

  • The IRS suspends all new automatic, systemic liens and levies during this period to facilitate taxpayers with COVID-19 issues.

6.      Passport Certifications to the State Department

  • During this period, the IRS will suspend all new certifications to the Department of State for those taxpayers who are “seriously delinquent.”
  • Furthermore, these taxpayers are recommended by the IRS of the request submission for an Installment Agreement or, if applicable, an OIC during this period.
  • Taxpayers are prevented from receiving or renewing passports by means of certification.

7.      Private Debt Collection

  • The IRS will not forward new delinquent accounts to the private collection agencies for working during this period.

8.      Field, Office and Correspondence Audits

New field, office and correspondence examinations will not be started by the IRS during this period. On the other hand, the agency will keep on working and processing refund claims where possible, without making in-person contact. However, new examinations may be started by the IRS where deemed necessary for the protection of government’s interest in preserving the applicable statute of limitations. Further details include:

a.      In-Person Meetings

  • During this period, all types of in-person meetings regarding current field, office and correspondence examinations will be suspended.
  • Although, The IRS examiners will not hold in-person meetings, but they will try to continue their all possible examinations remotely.
  • The IRS encourages taxpayers to take necessary steps in order to facilitate the progress of open examinations.
  • If possible, Taxpayers should respond to any requests for information they already have received or they may receive in near future on all examination activity during this period.

b.      Unique Situations

  • The IRS facilitates some corporate and business taxpayers particularly in cases where they want to initiate an examination while people and records are on hand plus relevant staffs have capacity.
  • The IRS may initiate activities to move forward with an examination in cases where it is favorable in the best interest of both parties and concerned personnel are available.
  • The IRS may initiate activities if the agency evaluates that COVID-19 developments could afterward lessen activities for an agreed period.

c.       General Requests for Information

  • The IRS encourages taxpayers to compliance activities and examinations during this period.
  • Furthermore, the taxpayers are encouraged to respond to any other IRS correspondence requesting additional information during this time, if possible.

9.      Earned Income Tax Credit and Wage Verification Reviews

  • Taxpayers can respond to the IRS to verify that they qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit until July 15, 2020.
  • Taxpayers can respond to the IRS to verify their income until July 15, 2020.
  • The IRS encourages these taxpayers for exercising their best efforts for obtaining and submitting all requested information.
  • If the taxpayers are unable to obtain and submit all requested information, they are requested to contact IRS with the reasons of not making requested information available to the agency.
  • The IRS will not refuse these credits for a failure to provide requested information until July 15, 2020.

10. Independent Office of Appeals

  • The IRS says that its Appeals employees will continue to work their cases during this period.
  • In this regard, conferences may be held over the telephone or by videoconference, as in-person conferences with taxpayers are not currently hold by the appeals.
  • The IRS encourages the taxpayers to respond without a delay to any outstanding requests for information for every case in the Independent Office of Appeals.

11. Statute Of Limitations

  • For the protection of all applicable statutes of limitations during this period, the IRS will continue to take steps where necessary.
  • The IRS encourages taxpayers to cooperate for extending the statutes in cases where statute expirations might be put at risk during this period.
  • If the taxpayers do not cooperate in extending such statutes, the IRS will issue Notices of Deficiency and follow additional similar actions for the protection of government’s interests in preserving such statutes.
  • The IRS is unlikely to pursue the foregoing actions until at least July 15, 2020 in cases where a statutory period is not set to expire during 2020.

12. Practitioner Priority Service

  • Depending upon the staffing levels and allocations going forward, the practitioners are reminded about more significant wait times for the PPS i.e. Practitioner Priority Service.
  • As the situations progress and develop, the IRS will keep on monitoring this.

The IRS is offering on-going support and relief to help taxpayers. One such effort is Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) that offers paid leave for workers & tax credits for small and midsize businesses to combat coronavirus tax issues. Not only this, the IRS also allowing High-Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) to cover coronavirus costs. Black Ink has not left its clients during the health crisis and our tax professionals are working remotely to file your taxes during coronavirus crises in USA. Be a regular reader of our news section to get all latest IRS steps made to facilitate people for filing taxes in the United States. So that was everything about IRS First Initiative for COVID-19.

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