Did you mail a check, tax return, or letter to the IRS sometime during the COVID-19 pandemic? If you did, it may be sitting in a pile of unopened mail at the IRS. The IRS Commissioner recently announced that at one point this summer, the IRS had approximately 12 million pieces of unopened mail in its inventory.
As a result of this backlog, the IRS was not always able to match electronically filed tax returns to paper check payments, making it appear as if a return was filed, but without payment.
But they still sent out late notices
To make matters worse, the IRS sent out balance due notices that even added interest and penalties for late payment of taxes – even though the payment may have been sitting in that pile of unopened mail. Thankfully, as of August 21, the IRS has stopped sending out notices to taxpayers who show a balance due on their taxes. You may still receive a balance due notice as previously generated notices work their way through the postal system.
Here’s what to do if you receive a notice:
If you previously sent a payment to the IRS:
- Don’t send another payment.
- Don’t void or stop payment on that check.
- Save all your documentation that confirms you sent a check (i.e., the return receipt from sending it via certified mail).
- Don’t spend that money. Reserve those funds because, eventually, the IRS will get through its backlog.
- You most likely don’t need to call the IRS to resolve this. Hold times are long, and you may be disconnected in the process.
As the IRS works through its backlog, they have promised that payments will be credited to taxpayer accounts as of the date the payment was received, not the date it was processed.
If you still need to send a payment to the IRS:
- Check to see if Notice 1052 was included with any balance due notice you may have received. Notice 1052 may have an updated payment deadline that gives you additional time to pay.
- If you need to send a check, send it via certified mail with return receipt. Keep the receipt with your tax documents.
- Consider paying electronically.
A good reason to pay electronically
The delays at the IRS due to the pandemic provide a compelling reason to use one of the several options available for paying taxes electronically. By paying electronically, you receive immediate confirmation that your payment has been received and credited to your account.