Today organizations representing professionals in the tax industry sent a letter to IRS Commissioner, Charles Rettig, and the Department of Treasury’s Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy, Lily Batchelder, requesting specific relief for taxpayers for the 2022 tax season. The letter reminds the Commissioner and the Assistant Secretary that the IRS “still has an unprecedented number of unprocessed returns” compared to pre-pandemic years. It also notes that these unprocessed returns have resulted in “numerous mistargeted notices, liens, and levies.” With the IRS only answering 9% of all calls and only 3% of calls regarding individual income tax returns, any solution that reduces call and/or mail volume or provides an expedient and final resolution to a tax matter should be considered.
The letter notes that the IRS “has not taken reasonable actions that would meaningfully reduce unnecessary burdens during this upcoming tax filing season” and offers the following four solutions:
- Discontinuing automated compliance actions until the IRS has the resources to achieve proper and timely resolutions to the matters.
- Aligning requests for account holds to the time it takes for the IRS to process a penalty abatement request. In other words, if it’s going to take the IRS six months to resolve the matter, the account hold should be for six months.
- Offer a reasonable cause penalty waiver similar to the “first time abatement” (FTA)
waiver that does not affect a taxpayer’s future eligibility for an FTA.
- Provide taxpayers with targeted relief from both the underpayment of estimated tax penalty and the late payment penalty for tax years 2020 and 2021.
Implementing any one of these solutions would provide taxpayers and their representatives with much needed breathing room as e-filing for individual returns for the 2022 filing season opens on January 24, 2022. Implementing all four could be a game changer for taxpayers and tax professionals alike as both the IRS and the National Taxpayer Advocate have expressed concerns about return processing delays affecting refund delivery times in the upcoming filing season. Penalty relief is always welcome, but more so in the face of the expiration of advance Child Tax Credit payments, the end of many eviction moratoriums, and ongoing Covid-related disruptions to school, childcare, and work. Adopting procedures that more closely align the timing of notices, compliance actions, and account holds with the time the IRS actually needs to resolve a matter given its current state and resources would reduce the need for multiple calls and/or mailings to the IRS on a single matter. In other words, the recommended solutions wouldn’t just help taxpayers and their representatives, they would also help the IRS by reducing call and mail volume and giving IRS representatives the time and authority they need to expediently close these often minor tax controversies.
Signatories to the letter included the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA), the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP), LatinoTaxPro, the National Society of Black CPAs, and Prosperity Now.