The Internal Revenue Service launched the People First Initiative in response to the COVID-19 crisis, which temporarily halted IRS tax collection and enforcement for taxpayers affected by the shutdown. In the following article, Optima Tax Relief reviews the elements of the initiative.
The People First Initiative, first released at the end of March of 2020, was an unprecedented effort by the Internal Revenue Service in the face of an unprecedented crisis. In effect, the initiative offered relief to taxpayers by suspending certain activities, such as audits and enforced collection.
The goal of the initiative is to lessen the financial and personal burden of those struggling to meet tax challenges from previous tax years. The easing of enforced collection allows taxpayers to concentrate on sustaining themselves during the period of economic uncertainty. The initiative will remain in effect indefinitely, but will be deactivated once the crisis appears to have lifted.
Some of the most noteworthy actions in the People First Initiative include:
- Suspending mandatory Installment Agreement payments due between April 1st and July 15th , 2020.
- Suspending accepted Offers in Compromise payments until July 15th, 2020.
- Suspending defaults on Offers in Compromise for missed 2018 tax year return filings.
- Suspending liens and levies – both by field officers and automated – initiated for non-high-income filers.
The IRS will continue to adhere to statutes of limitations where applicable.
It is important to note that while the IRS has authorized suspending payments of outstanding tax debt, interest will continue to accrue for the length of time the debt is outstanding.
Although many activities are currently being suspended or eased, cases are nonetheless still being addressed by the IRS Independent Office of Appeals. Conferences are being held via online conferencing tools or by telephone; in-person meetings between representatives and taxpayers are suspended. Taxpayers who receive official notices or requests for information by mail should respond promptly by contacting their local IRS field office.
Taxpayers who have failed to file tax returns before 2019 should do so as soon as possible. Those who are due refunds may claim them if they choose to file now, and those who owe a greater tax debt than they can currently afford to pay may take the opportunity to resolve their debt by applying for the IRS Fresh Start program.
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