IRS backlog causes taxpayer problems
Picture this: you owe money on your taxes, you pay it and months later the IRS sends you a letter like this never happened.
He says, basically, pay. Or, in IRS parlance: “If we haven’t heard from you and you don’t file a petition with the United States Tax Court, we’ll assess the additional tax you owe plus penalties.” and applicable interest and send you an invoice, ”said Matt Metras, a tax preparer in New York City.
Metras read those words in a notice the IRS has been sending out a lot lately. Some of his clients have had it, and that makes it uncomfortable.
“The first thing they want to do is blame the tax preparer like we’ve messed something up,” Metras said. “They say to me, ‘Well, I paid for this. I do not know what happened. “
The pandemic is what happened.
“When the pandemic hit, the IRS had to shut down its offices,” said Cesar Bocachica, accountant for a Virginia company called ProSport CPA. But, “correspondence, letters, checks – they haven’t stopped receiving them.”
The agency has therefore accumulated a huge backlog: millions of unopened mail and unanswered returns.
It created all kinds of problems: taxpayers’ checks don’t get cashed, refunds never come.
The delays are so severe that they even affect people who bypass the mail and pay their taxes online.
Carla Blanchard, a CPA in Illinois, paid her taxes electronically in July. And yet, the IRS sent her letters saying she hadn’t. During this time, “You can log into your IRS account. And when I logged into mine, it showed my payment there, ”she said. “So the payment they say I didn’t make is actually posted to my account. “
The IRS phone lines are also backed up, which can take a while to reach the agency, if you can.
It can all be confusing and overwhelming for clients, said Bob Lickwar, CPA at UHY Advisors.
“As a CPA, we charge for our time, and I think that’s what they find most frustrating, that they incur additional costs to resolve these issues,” Lickwar said. “And to be honest with you guys, I can’t say I blame them.”
The IRS declined to comment for this story. Corn on his website, the agency recognizes the delays. He says taxpayers should not cancel checks they send, and that checks will be recorded on the date they were received, and not opened.
The IRS also says it is working hard to overcome the backlog and encourages people to declare their 2020 taxes online.