TAP News

New Tool Provides Businesses COVID-19 Tax Relief Information
in Only a Few Minutes

Let the Taxpayer Advocate service help you determine if you or your business may qualify for one or more of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) business tax relief options currently available. 
 
By using the COVID-19 Business Tax Relief tool, anyone who runs a business and has employees, can: 
 
  • Determine if they may qualify for available tax relief,
  • Learn what those tax relief options are, and
  • Get more information on what steps, if any, need to be taken to claim that relief. 
 
To use this tool simply answer a couple of questions. It only takes a few minutes! Based on your answers, it will determine if you may or may not qualify and for which tax relief options. If additional steps are needed to claim these, the tool will provide links to more information, including any forms needed. 
 
Please share this information with other local business owners, friends and family to help businesses stay in business. Or feature the tool on a website, in newsletters, through blogs or social media to help others get more information about how to get immediate tax relief for their business and employees.
 
 

NTA Blog: Lessons Learned from COVID-19: The Critical
Need to Improve IRS Digital Services

Individuals, businesses, schools, and federal and state agencies all continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. And as the IRS resumes its business operations that were partially or completely shut down at the inception of the COVID-19 national emergency, it is still facing challenges of balancing the health and safety of its employees with accomplishing its core mission: providing much-needed services for taxpayers; administering the 2020 filing season in which it has already processed over 149 million returns and issued over 119 million refunds totaling over $290 billion; guarding against identity theft, refund fraud and sophisticated cyber-attacks often exceeding 1.4 billion attempts each year; performing the extensive programming required to administer the 2021 filing season; processing any remaining Economic Income Payments (EIPs); analyzing potential legislation and preparing for another possible round of stimulus payments; providing legal and administrative guidance; incorporating new legislation changes into its operations; and deploying hundreds of Customer Service Representatives to assist with wildfire and hurricane relief efforts – all while continuing its tax enforcement efforts in a socially distanced environment. As part of the reopening, the IRS continues to evaluate what needs to be done to administer the tax laws and provide necessary taxpayer services under similar conditions in the future so that it can provide the necessary service required by taxpayers. My office will continue to advocate for improved taxpayer services regardless of the circumstances. 
 
At the beginning of the pandemic, call centers and Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs) were shut down, so taxpayers could not reach the IRS by phone, in person or by mail. Paper processing centers were shut down, so paper tax returns and other paper correspondence could not be opened or processed which created a backlog. The closures required by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent challenges exposed critical shortcomings in IRS technology impacting many functions within the IRS. As the IRS takes stock of lessons learned from this experience, one lesson is obvious: improvement of the technology capabilities of the IRS is critical. It is not a small or inexpensive task, but it is imperative for proper tax administration. The country no longer has an option but to support appropriate funding for the IRS. It is incumbent upon Congress to fund the technological upgrades the IRS requires to provide an enhanced level of service and improve its overall operations. Modernizing its technology and increasing the use of digital communications and the electronic production of documents in a secure environment is no longer a luxury; rather, it is a required operational need. In this blog, I tackle the expansion of digital service options to improve the taxpayer experience as taxpayers interact with the IRS. In my next blog, I will discuss the need for multi-year funding to modernize IRS computer systems and infrastructure. 
 
For years, the IRS has steered taxpayers toward digital self-help. In fact, the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act requires the IRS to regularly review its public-facing services and make them available in a digital format, to the greatest extent practicable. As a result, the IRS continually expands its offerings of digital service options in an effort to meet taxpayer demand as well as to provide more efficient service delivery methods. In addition, § 1101(a)(1) of the Taxpayer First Act (TFA) requires the IRS to submit to Congress a written comprehensive customer service strategy with a plan to provide assistance to taxpayers, including online services that are secure, designed to meet reasonable taxpayer expectations, and adopts appropriate best practices of customer service in the private sector. 
 
Within the IRS there is an energy behind the design and implementation of the TFA and I understand the written strategy will be provided to Congress by the end of the year. However, implementation and success of the IRS’s TFA plan will be contingent on critical additional funding.
 
During the COVID-19 crisis, with the temporary closure of TACs and phone lines supported by customer service assistors, the IRS encouraged taxpayers to use digital service options. However, this pandemic exposed shortcomings in the IRS’s portfolio of these options. Accordingly, I offer the following proposals to improve taxpayers’ experiences as they digitally interact with the IRS in the future:  
 
  • Expand Digital Acceptance and Transmission of Documents and Digital Signatures. The March closure of IRS offices and mail facilities made it impossible for IRS employees to receive paper documents from taxpayers and representatives. As a workaround, the IRS issued temporary guidance on March 27, 2020, which it subsequently extended through the end of 2020, that authorizes employees to accept and transmit documents related to the determination or collection of a tax liability by email using an established secured messaging system. Employees are also permitted to accept images of signatures (scanned or photographed) and digital signatures on documents related to the determination or collection of a tax liability. On April 13, 2020, TAS issued similar guidance regarding digital communications and transmission of documents for open TAS cases, and subsequently updated the guidance and extended it through the end of 2020. On August 28, 2020, the IRS announced that it will temporarily accept digital signatures on additional forms that cannot be electronically filed. In addition, TFA § 2302 amended Internal Revenue Code (IRC) § 6061(b)(3) to require the IRS to publish guidance establishing uniform standards and procedures for the acceptance of taxpayers’ electronic signatures for any request for disclosure of a taxpayer’s return or return information (e.g., powers of attorney (Form 2848) and tax information authorizations (Form 8821)).

    The TFA and the COVID-19 pandemic have provided the impetus for the IRS to expand its use of email and acceptance of electronic digital signatures in line with the practices of private financial institutions. These changes were long overdue and have been very positively received by practitioners. The IRS is continuing to assess these changes to ensure they aren’t creating significant data security vulnerabilities and institute additional safeguards, if required.  Going forward, I urge the IRS to accept electronic signatures on virtually every document that requires a signature and to continue to allow and expand its use of secure digital communications on a permanent basis.  I strongly encourage the IRS to solicit practical suggestions regarding how to best use digital signatures from external stakeholders, including the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council (IRSAC), the Electronic Tax Administration Advisory Committee (ETAAC), the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), the American Bar Association (ABA) Tax Section, and the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA), all of which have already provided comments to the IRS on this topic.  
     
  • Improve Online Account Accessibility and Features. The IRS offers an online account application for individual taxpayers and is in the process of developing Tax Pro, an online account application for practitioners. Taxpayers who gain online account access can view their balance due, make payments, retrieve account transcripts, and even view the status of any EIP, among other features. The IRS continually adds features to the online account application. However, certain taxpayers have difficulty satisfying the elevated e-authentication requirements of the application. For example, in July 2020, only 50 percent of users who attempted to register for an online account passed the IRS’s e-authentication requirements. The elevated authentication requirements are necessary to screen out unauthorized access and, often, highly sophisticated hacks of taxpayer information.  However, legitimate taxpayers have experienced difficulties, as the current authentication process is complex and not user-friendly. I recommend that the IRS continue to assess ways to increase accessibility while also maintaining required compliance with strict security guidelines developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). We anticipate that the IRS will continue adding features (e.g., digitally communicating in a secure environment, viewing the status of submitted correspondence, and viewing copies of notices mailed by the IRS) to enable a one-stop customer service experience for users once staffing and an increased information technology budget are provided, and security risks are addressed.
     
    In addition, the IRS currently offers e-Services, an online application for tax professionals. E-Services gives professionals access to a variety of services, including (i) the Transcript Delivery System to view filed returns and taxpayer account information, and (ii) Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) Matching to validate TIN and name combinations prior to submitting information returns. As stated above, the IRS is developing Tax Pro, a much-needed online platform for tax professionals to digitally create and manage third-party authorizations (e.g., Forms 2848 and 8821).  It is my understanding, that due to lack of funding, Tax Pro will not have robust features for many years.  I recommend that Congress provide appropriated funding to allow the IRS to implement a full-service online tool for tax professionals, possibly integrating it with e-Services. The online tool for tax professionals should provide services at least comparable to those offered on the taxpayer online account application
     
  • Offer Videoconferencing Options to Taxpayers. Videoconference technology allows taxpayers and representatives to be both seen and heard, and to share documents, without being physically present. The IRS Independent Office of Appeals currently offers WebEx technology for virtual face-to-face conferences between taxpayers, representatives, and Appeals Officers. The IRS Office of Chief Counsel and the U.S. Tax Court are conducting pre-trial conferences and trials using videoconferencing technology. TAS is also evaluating the feasibility of using videoconferencing technology for virtual face-to-face meetings between Case Advocates and taxpayers (or their representatives). Videoconferencing is not meant to replace in-person or telephone conference options; rather, it adds a digital option to communicate with taxpayers and their representatives.
     
    I recommend that the IRS evaluate the feasibility of expanding this technology to as many taxpayer-facing functions as possible. Unfortunately, existing bandwidth to handle widescale use of this technology is so limited that the IRS generally has not permitted even internal videoconferencing during COVID-19 closures. Yet videoconferencing should be expanded because it can help fill current or future voids in face-to-face service at TACs and in dealing with revenue agents or revenue officers. In addition, taxpayers geographically remote from a TAC or TAS local office would find using videoconferencing technology more helpful and economical than traveling for an in-person conference. Even taxpayers not geographically remote may prefer the convenience of a virtual meeting. The IRS has utilized Virtual Service Delivery (VSD) in the past, but it should modernize its VSD capabilities to allow taxpayers to use neighborhood facilities, such as local post offices, community centers, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites, and other locations, to log into secure IRS applications. It is my understanding that the IRS is exploring the feasibility of this option for remote locations. We encourage them to continue down this path.
 
Despite the many benefits of digital communication, it is critical that telephonic and in-person service options are maintained. Millions of taxpayers still do not have broadband internet, computer skills, or the ability to interact electronically, while other taxpayers strongly prefer to interact with the IRS by telephone or in-person. For these reasons, I believe it is critical that the IRS maintain a robust omni-channel service environment at the same time that it enhances its digital offerings. 
 
In closing, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that the IRS, its employees, and their families have also been significantly impacted. I want to thank the many hardworking and dedicated TAS and IRS employees, including leadership teams, support personnel, and contractors, who have worked countless hours day after day in the office or remotely during the pandemic while juggling their own health and safety issues. I understand there are still many taxpayers with unresolved tax issues who are extremely frustrated with the process, and in my role as the National Taxpayer Advocate, I will advocate that the IRS continue to work to fix taxpayer problems without additional delay. Most of the problems, however, are a product of circumstance, particularly the office closures required by COVID 19-related social distancing requirements. Since mid-March, employees have faced the daunting task of not only administering the tax filing season under remarkably challenging circumstances, but also disbursing some 160 million EIPs on short notice. Without the dedication and hard work of IRS employees, taxpayer service might have been much worse. I am grateful to TAS employees and employees in other parts of the agency for all they have done to keep the tax system operating.

 

NTA Blog: Need Help With Economic Impact Payment Issues?
How TAS Can Assist Those That Qualify

In our previous blog, we highlighted the IRS’s procedures to correct missing Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) and how TAS can assist some taxpayers. The table below sets forth the scenarios the IRS will currently resolve, what some individuals need to do before an EIP is issued, the scenarios where individuals will need to claim the correct payment on their 2020 tax return, the types of cases with which TAS can assist, and how taxpayers can get help.
 
The table identifies ten EIP scenarios. The IRS has corrected or will soon correct the EIP underpayments for the first three of these scenarios. For example, in the first scenario, an individual who used the Non-Filer Tool prior to May 17 and claimed at least one qualifying child may not have received the qualifying child portion of the EIP because of a programming error. The IRS has started issuing additional payments to these individuals, and we anticipate all additional payments will be received by the end of August. If for some reason the IRS’s current programing correction does not fix a specific individual’s situation in this scenario, TAS will be able to assist the affected individual.
 
For the last four scenarios, the IRS currently does not have a process in place to adjust these EIP distributions. These individuals will have to claim any additional amounts for which they’re eligible on their 2020 tax returns in 2021. For example, if the IRS calculated the EIP based on a 2018 tax return and the taxpayer’s situation changed in 2019, the IRS is requiring the individual to wait until next year to receive any additional payments. One fact pattern involves the birth of a child in 2019. After receiving the EIP, the individual filed the 2019 return, which would have qualified for the $500 dependent benefit. The IRS has instructed these individuals to adjust the difference with the filing of their 2020 tax return. Unfortunately, for the last four scenarios, TAS cannot assist taxpayers because the IRS is unwilling to create procedures to make the additional payments this year.
 
This is not a good answer for taxpayers. Congress authorized EIPs to assist the tens of millions of Americans who are suffering financial hardships as a result of COVID-19 closures, and many of these individuals need their stimulus payments now. The CARES Act, in fact, directed the IRS to make payments “as rapidly as possible.” On June 16, I issued a proposed Taxpayer Advocate Directive that directed the IRS to “immediately develop a process to correct EIP errors in instances where an eligible individual has not received his or her EIP or has not received the correct amount.” Since that time, we have held continuing discussions with the IRS about these issues, and I am pleased that the IRS has agreed to correct EIP errors in certain categories of cases. However, many eligible individuals have not received all or part of their EIPs due to circumstances the IRS has not agreed to resolve. We continue to urge the IRS to resolve all EIP cases this year for those taxpayers still waiting.
 
Taxpayers can call the EIP toll-free line at 1-800-919-9835 for general EIP questions or assistance with a specific issue. For taxpayers unable to resolve their issues with the IRS, who meet TAS criteria, and whose issues fall into the one of the first five categories below, TAS can help. Affected individuals may reach TAS toll-free at 1-877-777-4778.
 
The ten scenarios described in the table below encompass sources of EIP non-payments or underpayments experienced by many eligible individuals, but this is not an exhaustive list. Given the large number of intended EIP recipients and the wide range of individual and family circumstances, there undoubtedly will be many other fact patterns that occur in smaller numbers.
 
This chart was prepared by TAS based on discussions with the IRS and is not an official statement of IRS position. The information below reflects TAS’s understanding of the processes as of August 10, 2020. We will continue to provide updates as information changes or new information becomes available.
 
APPENDIX A: THE IRS’S CURRENT PLANS TO ADDRESS 10 SCENARIOS INVOLVING MISSING ECONOMIC IMPACT PAYMENTS (EIPS) AND WHETHER TAS CAN ASSIST¹
 
 
  Issue What Individuals are Impacted? Is the IRS Correcting These Issues Now? Next Steps for Taxpayers Can TAS Help?
1
EIP Did Not Include the Qualifying Child Portion
Taxpayers who used the Non-Filer Tool before May 17 and claimed at least one qualifying child, but the EIP payment did not include the qualifying child portion of the EIP. Yes. The IRS began depositing payments as of August 5th and mailing paper checks or debit cards on August 7th for the additional EIP amount.* None. The IRS is currently issuing the payments. Unless the individual does not receive the payment by late August, there is no action to take. Yes. If you have not received your additional EIP by the end of August, you can contact TAS.
2 Injured Spouse
The taxpayer is an Injured Spouse with a Form 8379 on file associated with the return used to calculate the EIP, or the taxpayer can fax or mail a completed Form 8379 and had his or her portion of the EIP payment applied to Child Support Obligations.
Yes. The IRS is reissuing the Injured Spouse’s portion of the EIP where that portion of the EIP was erroneously withheld.* Action May Be Required: If you have filed a Form 8379, there is nothing you need to do, and the IRS will issue the Injured Spouse’s portion of the EIP in the coming weeks. If you are eligible for Injured Spouse relief but have not filed a Form 8379, you should do so to have your portion of the EIP reissued. Yes. If you have not received your additional EIP by the end of August, you can contact TAS.
3
 
Joint Return With a Decedent or Incarcerated Spouse
The taxpayer returned the EIP payment issued based on a joint return with a deceased or incarcerated spouse (or the payment was stopped) and the taxpayer is eligible to receive his or her portion of the EIP. Yes. The IRS is reissuing the surviving spouse’s portion of the EIP along with amounts for any qualifying children in the original payment.* None. The IRS will recalculate the EIP and will be making direct deposits or mailing paper checks in the coming weeks. Unless the individual does not receive the payment by mid-September there is no action to take. Yes. Once the IRS establishes a date by which it expects this problem to be fixed, TAS can assist taxpayers whose problems have not been resolved by that date.
4
 
Math Error Identified by the IRS
The taxpayer's EIP was based on a 2018 or 2019 tax return where the IRS identified a Math Error, the Math Error impacted the amount of the EIP, and the Math Error has been or can be resolved. Yes. The IRS can reissue the missing EIP amount. If the Math Error has been resolved, the IRS should release the EIP payment automatically. If not, the taxpayer will need to work with the IRS or TAS to correct the math error adjustment before the EIP amount is adjusted and paid.*
 
 
 
Action Required: Taxpayer should call the IRS to resolve the Math Error to generate the release or proper amount of EIP.
Yes. TAS can assist in resolving the Math Error, which will trigger payment of the EIP, if the taxpayer meets TAS’ case-acceptance criteria.
5
Identity Theft
The taxpayer was the victim of identity theft and either did not receive an EIP or received an incorrect amount. Yes. If the identity theft problem is resolved, the EIP can be adjusted as part of resolving the identity theft case. Action Required: Taxpayer should contact the IRS to resolve the identity theft issue. Yes. TAS can assist in resolving the identity theft issue, which will trigger payment of the EIP, if the taxpayer meets TAS’ case-acceptance criteria.
6 No 2018 or 2019 Tax Return Filed and Did Not Receive an Information Return (SSA 1099 or RRB 1099) or SSI or VA Benefits EIP was not issued because the taxpayer did not file a 2018 or 2019 tax return and did not use the Non-Filer Tool. Yes. If the taxpayer files a tax return or uses the Non-Filer Tool by 10/15, the IRS will issue the EIP.
 
Action Required: Taxpayer should file 2018 or 2019 tax return or use the IRS Non-Filer Tool no later than 10/15 to generate the EIP.
 
Taxpayers who do not act before 10/15 will be able to claim the EIP benefits when they file their 2020 tax returns.
No. TAS cannot assist with the filing of a tax return. However, if the taxpayer experiences a problem after the return is filed, TAS may be able to assist.
7
Amended Return Filed or Processed After the Issuance of the EIP
EIP was based on original filed return. However, the taxpayer later filed an amended return that increased the EIP amount. No Action Required: Taxpayer can reconcile the difference on 2020 tax return and receive the additional amount in 2021. No
8
EIP Calculated on Wrong Year
IRS used the most current information it had in its system (as directed by the legislation). In some cases, the EIP was calculated on 2018 tax return and taxpayer wants it calculated on 2019 return (or EIP was calculated on 2019 return and the taxpayer wants it calculated on 2018 return). No
Action Required: Taxpayer can reconcile the differences on 2020 tax return and receive the additional amount in 2021.
No
9 EIP Based on Government-Issued 2019 Information Return (SSA 1099 or RRB 1099) or 2019 SSI or VA Benefits Paid
 
EIP was based on an information return (SSA 1099 or RRB 1099) or SSI or VA benefits information provided to IRS. After the EIP payment, the taxpayer filed a 2019 tax return or uses the Non-Filer Tool, which increases the EIP amount.
No
Action Required: Taxpayer can reconcile the differences on 2020 tax return and receive the additional amount in 2021.
No
10 SSA/RRB, VA or SSI Recipient and Claimed as Dependent on Another Taxpayer’s Return. Individuals who receive SSA/RRB, VA, or SSI benefits and who were deemed ineligible for the EIP because they were claimed as a dependent on another individual's 2019 tax return. No
Action Required: If appropriate, Taxpayer can reconcile on 2020 tax return and receive the additional amount in 2021.
No
 
 
¹This chart was prepared by TAS based on discussions with the IRS and is not an official statement of IRS position. The information reflects TAS’s understanding of the processes as of August 10, 2020.
 
* Individuals receiving an additional payment should be able to track it by using the “Get My Payment” tool on the IRS website. Recipients should also receive a notice by mail notifying them that the additional $500 EIP per qualifying child was issued. The IRS recommends that recipients keep this notice for their records.

 

IRS: New law provides relief for eligible taxpayers who
need funds from IRAs and other retirement plans

The Internal Revenue Service provided a reminder today that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act can help eligible taxpayers in need by providing favorable tax treatment for withdrawals from retirement plans and IRAs and allowing certain retirement plans to offer expanded loan options.
 
Can I get money from my retirement account now?
 
Under the CARES Act, individuals eligible for coronavirus-related relief may be able to withdraw up to $100,000 from IRAs or workplace retirement plans before December 31, 2020, if their plans allow. In addition to IRAs, this relief applies to 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, profit-sharing plans and others.
 
These coronavirus-related withdrawals:
  • May be included in taxable income either over a three-year period (one-third each year) or in the year taken, at the individual's option.
  • Are not subject to the 10% additional tax on early distributions that would otherwise apply to most withdrawals before age 59½,
  • Are not subject to mandatory tax withholding, and
  • May be repaid to an IRA or workplace retirement plan within three years.
Can I take out a loan?
 
Individuals eligible to take coronavirus-related withdrawals may also, until September 22, 2020, be able to borrow as much as $100,000 (up from $50,000) from a workplace retirement plan, if their plan allows. Loans are not available from an IRA.
 
For eligible individuals, plan administrators can suspend, for up to one year, plan loan repayments due on or after March 27, 2020, and before January 1, 2021. A suspended loan is subject to interest during the suspension period, and the term of the loan may be extended to account for the suspension period.
 
Taxpayers should check with their plan administrator to see if their plan offers these expanded loan options and for more details about these options.
 
Who is eligible?
 
To be eligible for COVID-19 relief, coronavirus-related withdrawals or loans can only be made to an individual if:
  • The individual is diagnosed with the virus SARS-CoV-2 or with coronavirus disease 2019 (collectively, COVID-19) by a test approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (including a test authorized under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act);
  • The individual's spouse or dependent is diagnosed with COVID-19 by such a test; or
  • The individual experiences adverse financial consequences as a result of:
    • The individual being quarantined, being furloughed or laid off, having work hours reduced, being unable to work due to lack of childcare, having a reduction in pay (or self-employment income), or having a job offer rescinded or start date for a job delayed, due to COVID-19;
    • The individual's spouse or a member of the individual's household (that is, someone who shares the individual's principal residence) being quarantined, being furloughed or laid off, having work hours reduced, being unable to work due to lack of childcare, having a reduction in pay (or self-employment income), or having a job offer rescinded or start date for a job delayed, due to COVID-19; or
    • Closing or reducing hours of a business owned or operated by the individual, the individual's spouse, or a member of the individual's household, due to COVID-19.
Where can I find more information?
 
Retirement plan recipients can learn more about these provisions in IRS Notice 2020-50.
 
The IRS has also posted FAQs that provide additional information regarding this relief.
 
Additional information on the CARES Act and retirement plans, as well as updates, other FAQs, and other information can be found at IRS.gov/coronavirus.

 

National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins Delivers Her First
Report to Congress

National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins today released her first report to Congress, identifying taxpayer challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and the IRS’s implementation of the Taxpayer First Act (TFA) as priority issues the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) plans to focus on in the coming year.  
 
“I am proud to advocate for taxpayers’ rights and to work toward improving the taxpayer experience to ensure a fair and just tax administration. The effects of COVID-19 will continue to be felt for the foreseeable future. We will continue to identify areas where taxpayers’ needs are not being met and will continue to advocate for alternative approaches to meet those needs." 
 
The full report can be viewed here.

 

New Tool Provides Steps Needed to Get Economic Impact
Payments, in Less Than a Minute

The Taxpayer Advocate Service has a new tool called How Do I Get an Economic Impact Payment. It can help anyone determine what steps, if any, need to be taken to receive your payment. 
 
To use this tool, visit TAS’s website and follow the steps outlined. The tool will then prompt you through some simple questions to determine what actions, if any, you need to take based on the answers you provide. It takes less than a minute!  
If additional steps are needed to receive your payment, the tool will provide the links and information.
 
Don’t like to use online tools? No problem, go to our TAS Tax Tip and read through the steps instead. 
 
Visit taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/coronavirus for more information. Both the tool and our Coronavirus Tax Relief page are available in Spanish, too. 
 
Please share this information with your friends and family or host the tool, or our video, on websites, in newsletters, through blogs or social media to help others get more information about how to get their Economic Impact Payments. 
 

 

COVID-19 Related Inquiries

The Internal Revenue Service and the Taxpayer Advocate Service is experiencing delays and interruptions in working cases due to widespread IRS operation closures. These closures are also causing a high call volume resulting in delays in response times. We ask for your patience during this time.
 
For answers to general IRS tax questions go to https://taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/get-help or irs.gov. For questions about Economic Impact Payments, please go to irs.gov/coronavirus. TAP, unfortunately, is not able to respond to these general inquiries. These are the only and best ways to get answers as the IRS phone lines are not staffed at this time and all the IRS Campuses are closed in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The temporary closure of IRS facilities, in accordance with state and local orders, is playing an important role in stopping community spread COVID-19 among federal employees, families, friends and communities.
 
If you have an unresolved tax issue that is causing an economic hardship, please contact your local Taxpayer Advocate Service office.
 
We thank you for your patience and understanding as we are all dealing with these difficult times and working under unprecedented conditions.

 

Still Considering Volunteering with the Taxpayer Advocacy
Panel (TAP)?

TAP’s open season for accepting applications for the 2021 panel has been extended. You may apply through April 20, 2020.

 

What Members Are Saying About the TAP

The TAP is currently accepting applications for new members or alternates through March 30. New TAP members will serve a three-year term starting in December 2020. Applicants chosen as alternate members will be considered to fill any vacancies that open in their areas during the next three years. Here's what members are saying about their experiences:
 
“The most rewarding part of volunteering with TAP is interacting with people from across the US on issues that impact every taxpayer. Collaborating with TAP members and IRS representatives provides an opportunity to produce positive results. Changes range from updating forms to solving international taxpayer issues. The problems we address are diverse and impactful. Serving on TAP is an excellent way to affect change in our government. I encourage any civic-minded individual to apply.”
 
“It's inspiring that there is a group of people who care about improving the IRS enough to invest their own time to do so.”
 
“This is my first year, and it’s pretty exciting so far. It’s pretty amazing to work side by side with IRS staff and other volunteers from around the country and learning about ways to partner with IRS."
 
"Not only is it giving me new experience in working on productive teams, but it gives me access to what IRS is doing to modernize their IT systems."
 
"It’s a chance to actually make a difference by making recommendations to the IRS that come from taxpayers; serving on a federal advisory committee, I would recommend to anyone looking for a challenge in improving government for all of us.”
 
 
 

 

Treasury and IRS announce the appointment of Erin M.
Collins as the National Taxpayer Advocate

The U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have announced the appointment of Ms. Erin M. Collins to serve as the new National Taxpayer Advocate.
 
Ms. Collins has a distinguished career in tax law, beginning as an attorney in the IRS Office of Chief Counsel, where she worked for about 15 years. An alumnus of the University of California, Irvine, and the Southwestern School of Law, Ms. Collins served as Industry Counsel for Savings and Loans during the time of the S&L crisis. She also served as a Special Trial Attorney, where she was responsible for the development and litigation of high-profile, complex tax cases. Among other notable achievements, Ms. Collins is a two-time recipient of Chief Counsel’s highest award, the National Litigation Award.
 
Throughout her career, Ms. Collins has represented individuals, partnerships and corporate taxpayers on technical and procedural tax matters. For 20 years, she worked at KPMG, overseeing its tax controversy practice for the Western region as the Tax Managing Director. She has spoken frequently on IRS practice, procedure, controversy and litigation matters and is co-author of the Practising Law Institute’s Internal Revenue Service Practice and Procedure Deskbook.
 
The newly appointed National Taxpayer Advocate also has a strong passion for community service. Ms. Collins’ activism has focused on inspiring professional women to motivate teen girls from under-resourced communities through mentorship programs to fulfill the teens’ potential and to empower them to become confident, college-bound, career-focused, and ready to join the next generation of professional women. Ms. Collins has donated her time and energies to nonprofit boards focusing on communities where English is typically the second language spoken at home. Recently, she has represented several taxpayers on a pro bono basis in resolving problems with the IRS. 
 
“I am deeply honored to join the talented team at the IRS as the National Taxpayer Advocate and thank Secretary Mnuchin and Commissioner Rettig for the trust they have placed in me,” Ms. Collins said. “I will work every day to be a strong and effective representative of American taxpayers.”
 

 

NTA Blog: The Taxpayer Advocacy Panel is now
recruiting volunteers

The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is your voice at the IRS. We take this statement seriously, as demonstrated by the work we do to help taxpayers resolve their tax problems. We do more than resolve problems, however. Part of our mission is to recommend changes that will prevent problems in the future. And in keeping with that part of our mission, we provide oversight and support for the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP), a federal advisory committee made up of citizens that listens to taxpayers, identifies major taxpayer concerns, and makes recommendations for improving IRS customer service and customer satisfaction.
 
The panel, established in 2002, consists of about 75 volunteers. To the extent possible, TAP members come from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. In addition, one member represents U.S. citizens working, living, or doing business abroad or in a U.S. territory other than Puerto Rico. To be a member of TAP, a person must be a U.S. citizen, be current with federal tax obligations, and pass a Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal background check. Members cannot be federally registered lobbyists. In addition, current Department of the Treasury and IRS employees cannot serve on the panel, and former Department of the Treasury or IRS employees and former TAP members must have a three-year separation from their service to be eligible for appointment. Tax practitioner applicants must be in good standing with the IRS (meaning not currently under suspension or disbarment).
 
The TAP is currently accepting applications for new members or alternates through March 30. New TAP members will serve a three-year term starting in December 2020. Applicants chosen as alternate members will be considered to fill any vacancies that open in their areas during the next three years.
 
If the TAP’s mission interests you, we invite you to apply to serve on the panel and help the IRS understand how it can better assist taxpayers. As the IRS works to understand how to do a better job of meeting taxpayer needs, it needs to hear directly from taxpayers – and that’s why the TAP is so important.
 
TAP members generally spend 200 to 300 hours per year identifying major taxpayer concerns and making recommendations to address them. The TAP’s six core Project Committees submitted 224 recommendations to the IRS in 2019.
 
Members of the TAP have a wide variety of backgrounds, such as health care, real estate, higher education, military service, and local government. You don’t need any knowledge of tax administration to serve – just a desire to improve the services and operations of the IRS. You can learn more about the TAP in this video or visit www.improveirs.org for more information, including details about the application process.

 

New Form 1040-SR, Alternative Filing Option
Available for Seniors

The Internal Revenue Service wants seniors to know about the availability of a new tax form, Form 1040-SR, featuring larger print and a standard deduction chart with a goal of making it easier for older Americans to read and use.
 
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 required the IRS to create a tax form for seniors. Taxpayers age 65 or older now have the option to use Form 1040-SR, U.S. Tax Return for Seniors. Form 1040-SR, when printed, features larger font and better readability.
 
Taxpayers who electronically file Form 1040-SR may notice the change when they print their return. More than 90% of taxpayers now use tax software to prepare and file their tax return.
 
Taxpayers born before January 2, 1955, have the option to file Form 1040-SR whether they are working, not working or retired. The form allows income reporting from other sources common to seniors such as investment income, Social Security and distributions from qualified retirement plans, annuities or similar deferred-payment arrangements.
 
Seniors can use Form 1040-SR to file their 2019 federal income tax return, which is due April 15, 2020. All lines and checkboxes on Form 1040-SR mirror the Form 1040, and both forms use all the same attached schedules and forms. The revised 2019 Instructions cover both Forms 1040 and 1040-SR.
 
Eligible taxpayers can use Form 1040-SR whether they plan to itemize or take the standard deduction. Taxpayers who itemize deductions can file Form 1040-SR with a Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, when filing their return. For those taking the standard deduction, Form 1040-SR includes a chart listing the standard deduction amounts, making it easier to calculate. It also ensures seniors are aware of the increased standard deduction for taxpayers age 65 and older.
 
Married people filing a joint return can use the Form 1040-SR regardless of whether one or both spouses are age 65 or older or retired.
 
Both the 1040 and the 1040-SR use the same "building block" approach introduced last year that can be supplemented with additional Schedules 1, 2 and 3 as needed. Many taxpayers with basic tax situations can file Form 1040 or 1040-SR with no additional schedules.

 

 

 


 

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