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Tax Season is (Almost) Over - Let Notice Season Begin!

7/9/2020 - By Caroline Beasley, CPA

The IRS's local offices across the nation have been closed for over three months now. Processing centers, taxpayer assistance centers, and taxpayer advocate office workers all had to shift to teleworking, like the rest of the modern world. This is unchartered waters for the government, particularly since they still rely heavily on receiving facsimiles (aka a "fax"; aka the most outdated way to send a PDF, other than the mail) to verify information over the phone. 

That means anything that has to physically be mailed to them during this time will just sit in the office, waiting to be opened when employees are allowed to return. What does this mean for your paper-filed returns? How about those checks you've been sending to them? Why are you still getting notices from them when you've provided all your documentation… via mail?

Naturally, the fallout will land on the taxpayer’s shoulders to provide support for their claims against these letters. In this blog, I'll discuss the impact that the global pandemic has had on the IRS's processing centers and what you can do to protect yourself against needless notices and letters due to this time-lapse.

Certified Mailing Receipt

Just in the past few weeks, we've seen a slew of tax notices, letters, even liens being issued to clients because of the slowdown caused by COVID-19. A majority of these letters are simply related to miscommunication errors due to using snail-mail. But sometimes you simply cannot get out of sending your items via mail so we suggest adding a certified mailing receipt to your correspondence with the government. This helps support your claim that you sent your information in on time. Save this receipt, along with other documentation, in your files just in case you get a notice. 

Electronic Payment

Good news for those of you who are sending in payments by check: the IRS will cash it, of course! Sometimes your account won't be updated correctly because of manual entry errors, or maybe your handwriting on the check isn’t legible for computers to read – hence the letter you may have received in the mail. This is a burden, for sure, but you can eliminate these needless headaches by submitting your payments electronically via the IRS's website. We strongly suggest using this type of tool because you'll avoid the time-lapse and there are many ways to remit your funds by using a bank draft, debit or credit card, even same-day wire if you're a real procrastinator. Bonus points for not having to scribble down your social security number in that tiny memo space on your check!

IRS Operations During COVID-19

Another handy trick is to have this website bookmarked in your favorite internet browser. It keeps me up-to-date on how functional the IRS is during this period of transition back into the office. It also provides updates to timelines and what to expect if you do have to contact them or mail something to their office. They even reference their numerous interactive tools which you can use to do things like access your account information or view tax transcripts to verify payments made throughout the year. 

Now, as government employees start to slowly trickle back into the office, they face a mountain-high pile of mail to sort through. Patience is a virtue, as we've all heard before, and it will be your best friend while you wait for the IRS to go through their inbox. 

Questions?

Don't want to wait for the IRS to go through their inbox? CPA's have priority access to contacts at the IRS and we can speak to representatives on your behalf to sort out the miscommunication. Contact a member of our Tax Team and we’ll be happy to help!

Visit our COVID-19 RESOURCE HUB for ongoing updates and information. Due to the ever-changing nature of this event, you should always consult a professional.

About the Author | Caroline Beasley, CPA
Caroline is a manager in the Tax & Accounting Services Department at Saltmarsh. She began her career in public accounting in 2010 and prior to joining the firm in 2016, Caroline worked with an international accounting firm performing tax functions for large corporations and tiered partnerships. Her experience in tax compliance and consulting services in the manufacturing, health, investment management, wholesale and retail trade, real estate, construction, and non-profit industries allows her the opportunity to serve a variety of clientele.


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