10 things to know about IRS operations during the coronavirus pandemic
These are truly trying times for everyone. For the Internal Revenue Service, our nation’s tax (and now stimulus) administrator, times are about to get even more hectic.
The IRS is in the middle of a perfect storm. It’s in the midst of a busy filing season — with about 70 million individual tax returns still to be processed (as of March 20) for the 2020 tax year. The IRS is doing this work with about 20,000 less employees that it had 10 years ago. Now, with the passage of the CARES Act and other COVID-19 assistance laws, the IRS will have one of the most important and urgent jobs in our country: distributing many of the benefits in the stimulus package, including determining and distributing stimulus payments. It will also have to make significant changes to its returns processing and operations to account for all of the Tax Code relief changes found in the many new coronavirus relief provisions.
The IRS is adjusting its operations
This perfect storm requires the IRS to make significant adjustments to the way it does business. Until the COVID-19 epidemic is well behind us, the IRS will be doing its best to conduct business as usual while helping taxpayers by administering many of the recently passed COVID-19 relief provisions. For example, the IRS is urgently working on building remote work capability for many of its 70,000-plus employees — most of whom usually work from IRS locations and offices throughout the country. This transition will take some time in order to return to normal operations. In some cases, operations will not return to normal until well after the pandemic is over.
The IRS does have some experience in providing stimulus payments to taxpayers from the 2001 and 2008 recovery programs. However, the COVID-19 relief provisions are not as simple as the 2001 and 2008 programs — and they need to be implemented much more quickly than prior relief efforts.
For taxpayers and tax professionals, interacting with the IRS during the pandemic will be much different than normal. Here are 10 important things you should expect from IRS operations and interacting with the IRS until our country gets back to normal: