The IRS released details of their new "People First Initiative" on March 25, 2020. The steps outlined in this intiative (IR-2020-59) will 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."
Highlights of the key actions in the "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.
- Offers in Compromise (OIC) - The IRS will allow taxpayers until July 15 to provide requested additional information, make payments as parts of an accepted OIC, and generally will not default an OIC through July 15, 2020. Tapayers are reminded however that they should file all unfiled previous year tax returns as soon as possible.
- 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. In-person meetings regarding current field, office and correspondence examinations will be suspended. Even though IRS examiners will not hold in-person meetings, they will continue their examinations remotely, where possible. To facilitate the progress of open examinations, taxpayers are encouraged to respond to any requests for information they already have received - or may receive - on all examination activity during this period if they are able to do so. In addition to compliance activities and examinations, the IRS encourages taxpayers to respond to any other IRS correspondence requesting additional information during this time if possible.
- Earned Income Tax Credit and Wage Verification Reviews - Taxpayers have until July 15, 2020, to respond to the IRS to verify that they qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit or to verify their income. These taxpayers are encouraged to exercise their best efforts to obtain and submit all requested information, and if unable to do so, please reach out to the IRS indicating the reason such information is not available. Until July 15, 2020, the IRS will not deny these credits for a failure to provide requested information.