The IRS is revving up


The Internal Revenue Service, which faced many of the same difficulties that practitioners and taxpayers dealt with during the coronavirus pandemic, has gradually been ramping up its work through its offices across the country. They are now refocusing their efforts in a variety of areas, according to Stephen Mankowski, CPA, a past president and current tax chair of the National Conference of CPA Practitioners.

These areas include:

  • The IP PIN Program. The Identity Protection PIN is being expanded in phases, according to Mankowski. “Previously, it was only for victims of identity theft, and then it was expanded to several regions of the country,” he said. “Now it is being rolled out nationwide. Taxpayers with adjusted gross income of less than $72,000 should use Form 15227 to apply, and the PIN should be received in three weeks. The IRS is also working on an “opt out” program. The taxpayer will automatically get their IP PIN renewed annually via mail or through an electronic tool. This will continue until they elect to opt out — but it’s not available yet and is not available for victims of ID theft.
  • The Taxpayer First Office. The Taxpayer First Act’s 45 provisions have had a wide impact on how the IRS serves taxpayers and other stakeholders, according to Mankowski: “The overarching goals include a good taxpayer experience, employee experience, and operational efficiencies. The program foundation is basically complete except for the organizational structure.”
  • The Office of Professional Responsibility. “The IRS is working on implementing a program to accept electronic signatures on Form 2848, Form 8821, and several others,” Mankowski said. “The taxpayer would sign Form 2848, physically or electronically, then upload it to the IRS. The form would then go to a Centralized Authorization File Unit and be processed in the same manner as other forms.” He added, “The IRS is looking at Publication 1345 [‘Handbook for Authorized IRSe-fileProviders of Individual Income Tax Returns’] to implement authentication, but the exact method has not been determined. The benefit is that the practitioner would not have to get a ‘wet’ signature from their clients. The IRS is currently getting feedback and looking for testers.”
  • The CARES Act. “Although it seems like ages ago when the CARES Act was passed, the IRS is getting ready to send an additional $9 million to taxpayers who have not yet received Economic Impact Payments,” Mankowski said. “Practitioners are encouraged to spread the word so that these individuals can obtain their stimulus payments.”
  • PTIN renewal. The Preparer Tax Identification Number user fee has been reimplemented this year at $35.95. All continuing education courses must be completed by Dec. 31, 2020. There are a few hundred Enrolled Agents without Social Security numbers on their account. Letters will be sent out soon — renewal is based on the last digit of their SSN.

Mankowski noted a number of other updates:

  • The IRS continues to work on employment tax credits and family leave credits. They are working to get subject matter experts to be available to ensure these refunds get sent.
  • For taxpayers experiencing COVID-19 hardships, audits have resumed via e-mail and secure messaging, using cloud-based technology.
  • The IRS has made many additional employees telework-capable, especially customer service representatives. Some employees have even been provided mobile hotspots for when the internet is not available.
  • Form 1040-X can now be electronically filed to speed the tax return process.
  • Collection notices were already in the print queue at the time of shutdown, and updated balance due notices have been going out. Many replies have been sent to the IRS lockboxes, but will be resolved before follow-up notices are sent.
  • The IRS is still working on its backlog of paper-filed returns. Taxpayers should go to ‘Where’s My Refund?’ to check their status.

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