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A midseason update from the IRS

With the lengthened filing season in full swing, National Conference of CPA Practitioners tax chair Stephen Mankowski recently met virtually with government officials on a number of tax season-related topics, including early season filing statistics, the appeals process, improvements to the taxpayer experience, Nationwide Tax Forums, and the filing date extension.

Current filing statistics include the following, according to Mankowski:

Over 85 million returns have been received through March 26, 2021, with 75.97 million returns processed.

More than 15 million business returns have been processed.

The IRS expects to receive a total of 160 million returns.

Free File participation is up 8.2 percent.

At its highest point (following enactment of the American Rescue Plan), the IRS received 1,500 calls per second.

Filing date extension. The extension of the filing deadline to May 17, 2021, automatically extends the time to make 2020 contributions to IRAs and Roth IRAs, health savings accounts, Archer medical savings accounts and Coverdell education savings accounts. But it does not extend the April 15, 2021, deadline for estimated tax payments, Mankowski noted,


“This means that those with estimated tax really need to complete their return by April 15,” said Mankowski. “It’s not only the rich that have to do estimates. Over the last five years there have been a lot more self-employed persons. They’re required to file quarterly estimates, and are not in any sense wealthy. They’re just doing what they have to do to get by.”

The American Institute of CPAs, joined by a number of stakeholders, is calling for the deadline postponement to include quarterly estimated taxes. Sixty members of Congress have also joined the call in a bipartisan letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.

The letter, led by Rep. Lloyd Smucker, R-Pennsylvania, highlights many of the circumstances that have created insurmountable challenges for small-business owners and self-employed workers, and urged Commissioner Rettig to provide relief to these taxpayers by extending the tax filing deadline for first quarter estimated payments.

Appeals update. IRS Appeals is still primarily paper-based, but with most of the staff working from home, the agency is adopting more electronic procedures, according to Mankowski.

“There have been no in-person conferences permitted, and they are continuing to communicate through Zoom, WebEx and secure email,” he said. “Appeals acknowledged that there has been a drop in the number of cases. They are working existing cases, but there have been fewer collection notices, and not a lot of audits, so there hasn’t been a lot flowing into Appeals. We’ll see what happens over the next few months. Face to face is kept as an option, but with COVID-19 still an issue, they will not put their employees at risK."

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2 hours ago, cbslee said:

there hasn’t been a lot flowing into Appeals.

And yet one of our clients got an NOD because Appeals has NOT seen fit to act on the full response sent in back in November of last year!  He's self-filing a tax court petition and I'll take over again once the TC sends it back to Appeals with a spanking to settle the thing.  It's a dead-simple response, too; two corrections, one they were right about and one they were wrong about.  

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