Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Building in Washington, DC

Expect Delays When Dealing with The Internal Revenue Service

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.

About the Author(s)

Gerd Frank, CPA
Gerd is a Principal in the Naples, Florida office of HBK CPAs & Consultants. He joined HBK in 1999. Having moved here from his native Germany in 1994, Gerd’s specialty niche areas include private and business clients with international tax issues, nonresident alien matters and foreign-owned real estate interests. He is extremely active in the local community and serves as a member of the Rotary Club of Naples North and the United States Tennis Association (USTA).

Elena Ramos, CPA
Elena is a Senior Manager in HBK’s Naples, Florida office and has been with the firm since 2011. She has extensive experience in the area of taxation with emphasis on wealthy individuals and small to large businesses. Elena is also a member of HBK’s Foreign and International Tax Practice and works with foreign individuals on inbound and outbound foreign tax matters. Much of her free time Elena volunteers to help her local community.

Hill, Barth & King LLC has prepared this material for informational purposes only. Any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or under any state or local tax law or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding the matter.