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What is the IRS’s People First Initiative?

To aid individuals facing challenges associated with the Coronavirus pandemic, the IRS put a series of measures in place to provide taxpayer relief on a variety of tax issues. The program is called the People First Initiative.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig says, “In addition to extending tax deadlines and working on new legislation, the IRS is pursuing unprecedented actions to ease the burden on people facing tax issues. During this difficult time, we want people working together, focused on their well-being, helping each other and others less fortunate.”

What’s Included in the People First Initiative?

The People First Initiative includes reminders about available services and relief on installment agreements, in-person enforcement actions, and more. Generally, the time period runs through July 15, 2020.

Highlights of the IRS People First Initiative include:

1. Existing Installment Agreements 

If a taxpayer has an installment agreement, payments due between April 1 through July 15, 2020, are suspended. Interest will continue to accrue for the payments, however. Taxpayers may choose to stop automatic bank debits or continue them if they wish.

2. New Installment Agreements 

Taxpayers can resolve outstanding liabilities by entering into a monthly payment agreement with the IRS.

3. Offers in Compromise (OIC) 

To help taxpayers in various stages of the offers in compromise (OIC) process, the IRS will:

  • Allow taxpayers until July 15 to provide requested additional information to support a pending OIC.
  • Allow taxpayers to have the option of suspending all payments on accepted OICs until July 15, 2020 (interest will continue to accrue).
  • Not default an OIC because of a delinquent 2018 tax return.

The IRS also reminds  people with liabilities exceeding their net worth that the OIC process is designed to resolve outstanding tax liabilities by providing a “Fresh Start.”

4. Non-Filers 

Taxpayers are reminded to file outstanding returns for tax years before 2019. Delinquent taxpayers should also consider contacting a tax advisor for assistance—as millions of taxpayers actually have a tax refund due.

5. Field Collection Activities 

Liens and levies initiated by IRS officers will be suspended during this period. Please note: IRS officers will continue to pursue high-income non-filers where warranted.

6. Automated Liens and Levies 

New automatic, systemic liens and levies will be suspended during this period.

7. Passport Certifications to the State Department 

IRS will suspend new certifications to the Department of State for taxpayers who are “seriously delinquent” during this period. These taxpayers are encouraged to submit a request for an Installment Agreement or, if applicable, an OIC during this period. Certification prevents taxpayers from receiving or renewing passports.

8. Private Debt Collection 

Net-new delinquent accounts won’t be forwarded to private collection agencies to work from the IRS until the IRS deems it okay.

9. Field, Office and Correspondence Audits 

The IRS will not start new field, office, and correspondence examinations. They will continue to work without in-person contact.

10. Earned Income Tax Credit and Wage Verification Reviews 

Taxpayers who received correspondence from the IRS have until July 15, 2020, to respond to the IRS to verify that they qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit or to verify their income.

11. Independent Office of Appeals 

IRS appeals employees will continue to work their cases remotely.

12. Practitioner Priority Service 

The PPS has recently reopened but tax professionals should be reminded there might be higher wait times for the PPS.

As the IRS gradually resumes operations, taxpayers are encouraged to visit IRS Operations and Services for updates.

Get Personalized Tax Help

If you are in need of tax guidance this year and beyond, let Block Advisors help! With abundant opportunities to work with a tax advisor—from drop-off to one-on-one meetings, we are here to support you when it comes to taxes. Get started before July 15 now!

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