The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all corners of the globe and, at the time of writing at least, the United States is the main epicentre of contamination. With two-thirds of the country’s population under stay-at-home measures, there is no way that an organization as large and employing as many people in the country would not be affected. What are the current effects of this crisis on the IRS’s activities?
Our clients’ ITIN and refund claims are being sent to Texas. While the state is not subject to tight restrictive policies at this time, customers who ensured that they returned their signed tax returns to us upon receipt earlier this year have not been affected by this crisis. Indeed, processing times are quite usual and the first cheques for the 2019 tax year have begun to be mailed. Of course, any order from the Governor of Texas or any changes to the USPS postal services could change this situation overnight. We are following it in detail.
Nevertheless, we can almost say that it is business as usual at the moment. You’ll understand that it is not time to procrastinate if you have an outstanding file to finalize and file however!
Unfortunately, customers’ services are a totally different story. The call center for non-residents is located in Pennsylvania. The state is under a stay-at-home order. As a result, all telephone assistance is currently unavailable.
All processing centres located in states with similar policies, such as California, are suffering the same fate and are currently closed. This is also the case for the main Taxpayer Advocate Service telephone line.
The IRS website states: “In response to the national emergency and to protect our employees, America’s taxpayers, communities and our partners, the IRS has temporarily closed all Taxpayer Assistance Centers and discontinued face-to-face service throughout the country until further notice. The IRS is continuing to process tax returns, issue refunds and help taxpayers to the greatest extent possible.”
This crisis is also affecting many casinos in the United States. Because these establishments are closed, it is impossible to get help from their accounting departments when the problem is resolved through the withholding agents rather than the IRS directly.
The IRS employees’ union is also urging that the July 15th extension to file taxes be postponed until October 15th. The hope is that this will not only help taxpayers, but also reduce the pressure on IRS employees who continue to gather in groups in some of the offices that are still open.
The slowdown is also influencing the organization’s policies. Indeed, collection operations and audits will be limited in this period of crisis.
Working with the IRS already required exemplary patience. In these times of crisis, it appears that this will be all the more true in the months to come!
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