This week the IRS updated its “mission-critical website.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS has had to curtail some operations due to COVID-19 but its “mission-critical functions”, including accepting tax returns and sending refunds, continue. The website has been updated to identify what functions are and are not currently running.
- Paper Returns: The items detailed on the updated website include an instruction that all taxpayers should file electronically through their tax preparer, tax software provider, or IRS Free File if possible. The IRS is not currently able to process individual paper tax returns. If a taxpayer has already filed via paper but the return has not yet been processed, the taxpayer should not file a second tax return or write to the IRS to inquire about the status of the return or economic impact payment. The IRS says paper returns will be processed once processing centers are able to reopen. The IRS adds that, this year, more than 90% of taxpayers have filed electronically.
- Lien Certificate Applications: Additionally, the website states that all electronically submitted lien certificate applications (certifying that either a lien should be completely released or a portion of the property subject to the lien is to be discharged from the lien, in accordance with Reg §301.6325-1) are being processed. However, the IRS is not currently processing lien certificate applications submitted on paper and mailed to the Advisory Consolidated Receipts location in Florence, KY.
- Levies: Finally, the updated website states that IRS levies will not be automatically released. IRS will consider taxpayers’ requests to release levies on a case by case basis if the levy is causing an economic hardship. “Economic hardship” means the levy prevents the taxpayer from meeting basic, reasonable living expenses. The IRS may ask for additional financial information to determine if a levy is causing an economic hardship. If the taxpayer is working with a revenue officer and wishes to request a release of a levy, the taxpayer should contact the revenue officer. For cases not assigned to a revenue officer, a taxpayer wishing to request a levy release should call the number on the notice of levy. If the taxpayer is unable to get through, the taxpayer may fax the request (which must include the taxpayer’s name, address and social security number and the name, address and fax number of the taxpayer’s employer or bank where the levy is being processed) to 855-796-4524.
Frank L. Leffingwell is a tax attorney in the firm’s Tax Planning & Controversy, Estate Planning, Probate & Trusts, and Real Estate sections.