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IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig acknowledged the challenges that the IRS is experiencing in attempting to reopen offices nationwide. Rettig commented, “We continue to gradually reopen our operations across the country. As of Monday, thousands of employees have returned to facilities in seven states, and four more states and Puerto Rico will reopen on June 29. The IRS continues to focus on nonportable work and will reopen facilities in remaining states on July 13."
The IRS continues to maximize telework for employees who can perform duties at home. The IRS offices that are open will implement new protections for employees through social distancing. IRS staff continues to develop new strategies and procedures to protect employees.
Self-Screening – All employees are expected to self-screen. If an IRS employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, is required to self-quarantine or has been in close contact with a person who has a confirmed case of coronavirus within the last two weeks, that employee should not report for work.
High-Risk Populations – If an IRS employee is in a high-risk group as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he or she may telework or request leave.
Additional Cleaning Procedures – IRS facility staff at each location will implement expanded procedures for the cleaning and disinfecting all public areas.
IRS employees who return to work will face a mountain of an estimated 11 million pieces of unopened mail. Sunita Lough, IRS Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement, stated, “We estimate that we receive one million pieces of new mail each week. And think about all the weeks we were closed."
The IRS is also struggling to process returns filed on paper. It published a press release and explained, "We are experiencing delays in processing paper tax returns due to limited staffing. If you already filed a paper return, we will process it in the order we received it. Do not file a second tax return or contact the IRS about the status of your return or your Economic Impact Payment.”
The IRS urges taxpayers to be proactive in obtaining assistance. An excellent resource for questions about tax law, refund status, tax payments and Economic Impact Payments is www.IRS.gov. You can check on your Economic Impact Payment on the “Get My Payment” page or your refund status at the “Where’s My Refund?” page. If you need a tax transcript, select “Get Transcript.”
Taxpayers can make payments through Direct Pay. The tax payments for Tax Year 2019 are due on July 15, 2020. If you have tax law questions, use the Interactive Tax Assistant.
The IRS continues to offer limited phone support. Tax compliance and IRS support lines with customer service representatives for taxpayers and tax professionals are available. You may check your tax refund status on an automated line by calling (800) 829-1954.
Editor's Note: Both the filing and tax payment deadlines this year are delayed until July 15, 2020. As a result, June and the first two weeks of July will be a busy season for both taxpayers and the IRS. Millions of Americans have not yet filed or paid taxes and need assistance from the IRS.