COVID-19 has been affecting all of our lives this year. While lockdowns and restrictions are currently being lifted, IRS operations are still significantly slowed down. This is impacting many of the services that the IRS offers, and causing significant delays.
IRS Offices Slowly Reopening
On June 1st, the IRS began to bring more people back onto its campuses and offices to perform work that cannot be performed remotely. The first phase included employees with non-portable work in Kentucky, Texas, and Utah.
The IRS plans to reopen additional operations in:
- Georgia and Tennessee beginning June 15th
- Missouri and Michigan beginning June 15th
- Indiana and Ohio beginning June 29th and
- California, Puerto Rico, Oregon beginning June 29th
Tax Identification Numbers
The IRS EIN-Unit that issues employer identification numbers for new businesses appears to only be issuing new EINs online. The office accepting EIN applications by fax is currently closed, which means that many new businesses that cannot use the online option are currently unable to obtain an EIN. Businesses that are organized outside the United States cannot use the online service, but may still be able to receive an EIN over the phone by calling 267-941-1099 between the hours of 6:00 am and 11:00 pm Eastern Time.
Individual taxpayers that need an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) can also expect significant delays. Typically, a new ITIN gets issued within six weeks, however, the current processing time for new ITINs appears to be over three months. Furthermore, the IRS office processing ITINs is currently not taking phone calls.
Status of Taxpayer Issues
Calling the IRS to check on taxpayer issues was not an option during the COVID-19 peak. Fortunately, the IRS has now opened the practitioner line to allow practitioners to call the IRS about many taxpayers' issues. This has allowed HBK to follow up on the status of many client issues, but has to lead to other complications since most IRS agents are working from home, and not every IRS agent has access to a fax machine or other resources.
Stalled or Delayed Processing
Most IRS offices are still closed, and tax returns and tax payments mailed to IRS offices are still waiting to be processed. There have also been reports of mail being returned because the IRS office is unable to accept it. If a tax payment needs to be mailed to the IRS, we recommend that taxpayers use certified mail and keep adequate documentation to prove that the payment was mailed on time. If at all possible, electronic payments should be made via the IRS website.