What’s going on with your IRS Case? Resolve Uncertainty by monitoring your status

For taxpayers and tax professionals trying to resolve tax problems/issues, these can be trying times. The IRS is extremely backlogged in processing and resolving most post-filing issues and remains under-resourced.

IRS resources may provide little help in understanding what is specifically going on with your case at the IRS.  IRS transcripts that are available to taxpayers and their representatives often do not provide any comfort on the status of post-filing issues. Furthermore, IRS notices sent to taxpayers to provide information on the issue or more time to review correspondence provide little information on IRS actions and next steps.The result: taxpayers and representatives are making repeated calls and inquiries to the IRS requesting the status of their case. Taxpayers may benefit from monitoring their status regularly to stay informed.

Common post-filing issues that requiring regular monitoring

Taxpayers interacting with the IRS can expect to make multiple attempts to fully understand their issue and potentially close it out.  Here are some common issues that require continuous monitoring by taxpayers:

Amended return processing: The normal “up to 16 weeks” to process often takes much longer to complete. The online “where’s my amended return?” tool does not provide much detail if the IRS has more questions or has delays in processing. IRS account management hotlines are helpful places to find out the processing status of an amended return.

Penalty abatement requests: Penalty abatement requests using an informal letter or Form 843 are taking months to get an initial determination. Taxpayers who have not yet paid the penalty may have to manage IRS collection enforcement during this time (i.e. liens and levies). This requires the taxpayer and representative contact the IRS frequently to ensure that a levy or lien is not issued until the final penalty determination is made. Taxpayers and their representatives should be prepared to make multiple contacts to the IRS to make sure the case is being worked timely.

Appeals hearing requests: Appeals requests are taking months to assign and even longer to complete. The IRS will often take months to send a notice to the taxpayer informing them of their assignment to an appeals officer. This notice provides the taxpayer the contact information for the assigned appeals officer. However, the taxpayer is left in limbo until the assignment is made and the appeals officer actually starts to address the case (it is common for the appeals officer to have many cases in process). The result is multiple contacts to the IRS appeals hotline and/or the assigned appeals officer. For status contacts with the appeals officer, be prepared to wait. It is common to leave multiple messages and wait weeks for the appeals officer to respond.

Taxpayer Advocate intervention: The IRS’s Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is overwhelmed. TAS should contact the taxpayer within 5 days and work to expedite the request, and  assigned cases require that the taxpayer be given a follow-up date and next steps on actions. However, these dates are often missed. It is common for taxpayers and their representatives to contact their TAS caseworker for status. If the caseworker does not return the call, the taxpayer should contact the caseworker’s manager. The taxpayer can get the manager’s contact information from the central TAS hotline.

Collection agreement requests (including agreements that pay with direct debit): Taxpayers who are setting up streamlined installment agreements (i.e. payment plans when the taxpayer owes $50,000 or less, can pay within 72 months, and have no other IRS issues) may benefit from using the IRS’s Online Payment Agreement application. Otherwise, all paper and phone requests for IRS collection agreements can take months to set up. Specifically, IRS paper requests for payment plans by direct debit from a bank account can take months. Often, IRS delays in processing the direct debit request (Form 433D or 9465) resulting in the IRS not drafting the initial payment on the first payment date. This leaves taxpayers confused. Taxpayers should always check with the IRS until the agreement is in place. This will help avoid unexpected liens and levies if the agreement is not processed in a timely manner.

CP2000 and mail audit responses: The IRS can take months to process a response to a CP2000 underreporter notice or a mail audit inquiry. IRS transcripts do not indicate that a response was received. The taxpayer’s only method to know that the IRS has received and is working the response is to call the IRS Automated Underreporter or Correspondence Exam unit directly. Taxpayers who request reconsideration of a prior CP2000 or mail audit assessment will need to carefully monitor their status if the IRS is also collecting on the assessment. It is very common for these taxpayers to contact both the CP2000/Correspondence Exam unit for a status update while also contacting IRS Collection to put a hold on collection enforcement while the reconsideration cases are pending.

Delinquent return activity: Taxpayers filing a past-due return in which the IRS has delinquent return activity (such as filing a return for the taxpayer) must monitor the acceptance of their return. Often, these taxpayers must also manage IRS Collection enforcement if the IRS has unpaid assessments from previously enforced non-filings.

These are some of the more common interactions with the IRS that require monitoring. Almost all post-filing interactions that cannot be resolved in one phone call require monitoring to make sure that the request is received and properly processed.

Most IRS post-filing interaction is by phone and/or mail. With the exception of the Get Transcript online service, the IRS does not provide a taxpayer portal that taxpayers can monitor progress and status.  The only sure way to know is to:  contact the IRS by phone.

IRS Hotlines for Status Updates

IRS phone hotlines put you in touch with IRS representatives that can review the details of your case and status. But it is important to contact the right person at the IRS. Also, getting through to a live IRS person these days can be almost impossible.

Tax professionals can use a special hotline to check on the status of their client: The Practitioner Priority Service (PPS).  PPS has lower hold times if the Tax Pro calls early. However, PPS has limitations and may need to forward the call to another IRS unit. PPS can only help with account related issues (amended returns, receipt of penalty abatement requests etc). If the taxpayer has IRS enforcement issues (examination, CP2000, collection) or is assigned to IRS Appeals, the tax pro must contact the enforcement unit directly (or be transferred by PPS).

Taxpayers with post-filing issues may benefit from using a Tax Pro to avoid wasting time on hold trying to get status updates from the IRS. Taxpayers will need to authorize their tax pro to get their information and status by executing a Form 2848 (Power-of-attorney) or Form 8821 (Tax Information Authorization). Taxpayer and IRS Specialty Hotlines

Taxpayers handling matters themselves must use taxpayer hotlines to request status updates. Also, both taxpayers and tax pros who have cases assigned to specific IRS enforcement functions, TAS, or Appeals, must contact the unit directly.  Here are the most common phone numbers and times to call:

Here are the numbers to call for status updates:

Hotline Phone number Hours/availability
Individual accounts (800) 829-1040 For taxpayers (tax pros use PPS) M-F, 7AM-7PM, local time
Business and Specialty accounts (800) 829-4933 For taxpayers (tax pros use PPS) M-F, 7AM-7PM, local time
Taxpayer Advocate National Hotline (central intake) (877) 777-4778 M-F, 7AM-7PM, local time Local offices: 8AM-4:30PM
Automated Underreporter Unit (includes AUR reconsiderations) (800) 829–3009 (W&I)
(800) 829-8310 (SB/SE)
M-F, 7AM-8PM, local time
Correspondence Exam Unit (includes audit reconsideration) (866) 897-0177 (W&I)
(866) 897-0161 (SB/SE)
W&I: M-F, 8AM-8PM, local time
SB/SE:  M-F,7AM-7PM, local time
Automated Collection: Individuals (800) 829-7650 (W&I) M-F, 8AM-8PM, local time
Automated Collection: Self-employed and businesses (800) 829-3903 (SB/SE) M-F, 8AM-8PM, local time
Centralized Offer in Compromise Unit (844) 398-5025 (Memphis)
(844) 805-4980 (Holtsville)
M-F, 8AM-3PM (CST)
M-F, 8AM-3PM (EST)
IRS Appeals Assistance Hotline (for appeals assignment information) (559) 233-1267 Leave message and response back in 24-48 hours with appeals assignment and contact info
To avoid long wait times, calling early is helpful.

How often should you call for a status update?

Most IRS procedures require that the taxpayer be contacted if there is going to be a delay of more than 30 days. However, the IRS often does not update the taxpayer.  A good rule of thumb is for taxpayers and Tax Pros to contact the IRS once a month to make sure that their case is making progress.

IRS notices and transcripts can be used to understand the status of a case also. However, beware that transcripts usually only show adjustments to an account and the receipt of certain taxpayer filings. As such, transcripts are often not good indicators for actions and status on taxpayer accounts. It is best to contact the IRS directly to get the complete picture.

Taxpayers who need to contact the IRS and get information or resolve post-filing issues should be prepared to regularly monitor their status until the matter is resolved.

For assistance creating a strategy to address your tax issue contact Napoli Tax Services LLC today.

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