Taxpayer Advocacy Service (TAS) Can Help Taxpayers with Certain COVID-19 Stimulus Payment Problems
The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) now can help taxpayers in certain situations resolve their economic impact payment (EIP) issues. "Previously, the IRS did not have a process to resolve EIP cases, so there was nothing TAS could do to assist taxpayers," said Erin M. Collins, who assumed here National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) role on March 30, just as the United States was coming to grips with the coronavirus.
That limitation, which the TAS declared back in May, was distressing to many where EIP hurdles were causing financial distress. When the internal IRS watchdog office was created back in 1996, one of its major assignments was to help taxpayers when their dealings using the tax agency's usual channels go unresolved and create economic hardship.
Unfortunately, that meant when EIP issues started appearing, the TAS staff were told not to accept any cases that were solely about EIP problems. Since that edict was issued in late May, Collins has been working with the IRS to find a solution to this new area of much-needed taxpayer assistance, leading to this week's breakthrough.
Recent changes, Collins announced in an NTA Blog item (see next article), means that beginning August 10th, TAS will now accept cases for taxpayers whose EIP issues fall within certain categories and also meet other TAS criteria.
Collins noted in the post that "while the IRS has not agreed to resolve all missing EIP issues now," it has established procedures and has committed to correct EIPs in five specific situations.
The five allowable EIP scenarios where TAS now can help are:
Scenario #1: Eligible individuals who used the Non-Filer Tool and claimed at least one qualifying child but did not receive the qualifying child portion of the EIP. The IRS will issue supplemental EIPs with respect to those qualifying children in the coming weeks.
Scenario #2: Eligible individuals who filed Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation (or can complete and return the Form 8379) and did not receive their EIP. The IRS will issue the injured spouse’s portion of the EIP in the coming weeks.
Scenario #3: Eligible individuals whose EIP was based on a 2018 or 2019 tax return where the IRS adjusted the return for a math error that negatively impacted the original amount of the EIP (e.g., Qualifying Child, Adjusted Gross Income, filing status). The IRS can work with the taxpayer to resolve the math error and, if appropriate, issue a payment for the additional EIP amount.
Scenario #4: Eligible individuals who were victims of identity theft and did not receive an EIP or did not receive the correct EIP amount. The IRS will adjust the EIP once the identity theft issue is resolved.
Scenario #5: Eligible individuals who did not receive an EIP because they filed a joint return with a deceased or incarcerated spouse and their EIP payment was not issued, was returned, or was canceled. The IRS will recalculate the EIP and issue it only to the non-deceased/non-incarcerated spouse.
"This is a welcome change," said Collins of TAS' new ability to provide some help to at least some taxpayers with EIP issues.
She added that her office will be issuing more information on TAX EIP assistance "in the coming weeks, but we wanted to give taxpayers and practitioners a heads-up about the EIP changes that are coming."
The IRS watchdog office also will be providing more details about whether taxpayers with COVID stimulus issues qualify for TAS assistance and the best way to reach out for assistance.
Meanwhile, Collins said, her office will keep pushing the IRS to resolve a broader range of coronavirus payment cases this year.
"TAS takes seriously its role as the safety net for taxpayers," said Collins, "and that job is even more critical now when so many Americans are faced with economic uncertainty and desperately need the EIP funds that Congress provided."
NTA BLOG: Beginning August 10th, TAS Can Assist with Correcting EIP Amounts for Limited Groups of Taxpayers
While the IRS has taken extraordinary steps to quickly issue almost 160 million Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) to eligible individuals, many eligible individuals are still waiting to receive their EIP or the full amount for which they are eligible. Over the past several months, TAS has been working with taxpayers on non-EIP issues as best it could in light of limited IRS operations, but we have not been able to address taxpayer concerns with EIP issues. During that time, TAS has been urging the IRS to find a way to get full payments to these individuals now, rather than forcing them to wait until they file a 2020 tax return in early 2021. I am happy to report that the IRS has made some progress in this area. Read the rest of the blog here.
TAS will be issuing more information in the coming weeks, but we wanted to give taxpayers and practitioners a heads-up about the EIP changes that are coming. TAS will be providing more specifics to assist taxpayers in understanding whether their EIP will be corrected now or they will need to wait until they file their 2020 tax return in 2021. We will also be providing more details about whether taxpayers with EIP issues qualify for TAS assistance and the best way to reach us for assistance. In addition, we will continue to urge the IRS to resolve a broader range of EIP cases this year. TAS takes seriously its role as the safety net for taxpayers, and that job is even more critical now when so many Americans are faced with economic uncertainty and desperately need the EIP funds that Congress provided.