Trying to get in touch with the IRS?
If you think that waiting on hold with the IRS for hours is a huge waste of time, you’re not alone! But, individuals are not the only callers affected by the IRS staff shortages. Practitioners (Enrolled Agents, CPAs, and Attorneys who practice before the IRS) have dedicated lines, too. These lines are supposed to be staffed with higher-tiered Agents who have more knowledge and the ability to assist us with client needs. Since March 2020, the Practitioners Priority Line has been staffed with work-from-home Agents who have limited resources they can use due to security and confidentiality concerns.
Fast forward to 2022, and the IRS staffing issues remain. They are still trying to process the millions of filed returns (some dating back to 2020) and other correspondence.
Here are the current numbers:
- Form 1040 Individual Tax Return — 11.4 million
- Form 1040X Individual Amended Tax Return — 2 million
- Form 941 Employer Federal Quarterly Payroll Tax Return — 3.2 million
- Form 941X Amended Employer Federal Quarterly Payroll Tax Return — 210,000
Due to these processing delays, staff members have been pulled away from servicing Practitioners, causing further delays. More time than necessary is required to settle offers, straighten out misreported income or expenses, and even request for abatement for penalties based on tax law. In addition, there are undertrained staffers processing back tax returns, making the process even slower.
If you have recently received the love letter CP14 from the IRS stating that you did not pay your taxes due on your 2021 tax return, you have been subject to the backlog. In truth, a great many of these letters are legitimate “I didn’t have the money, so I didn’t pay” taxpayers, but more than ever, there are payments that were received that weren’t matched to the taxpayer, prompting the computer (the CP at the beginning of the notice) to auto send letters.
Fear not — the IRS has installed a “new” portal for secure messages to assist taxpayers and their representatives with sending correspondence and documents to the IRS. It is the secure messaging area that can be used: https://www.irs.gov/help/welcome-to-secure-messaging
I say “new” because many years ago, there was a platform for only Practitioners to use that we called EARS. It was a secure repository that had an IRS response within 72 hours — from a real human, not the computer! The IRS removed that feature because they stated that it cost too much. Personally, I cannot fathom how a computerized portal can incur higher costs than hiring an individual with related employment costs.
So, what can you do?
Remember to be patient and respond timely to notices if you miss a deadline — you may not have recourse to remove the erroneous information. If you are not comfortable handling the response yourself, hire a local, certified practitioner such as an Enrolled Agent. Fees will be payable to the practitioner up front and may take time to handle. Issues may take anywhere from 2-3 to possibly 100 hours to handle based on the complexity of the problem.