NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.—National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins is hoping that collections notices from the Internal Revenue Service will resume in the coming months.
The agency suspended automated collections notices in response to the backlog of unprocessed mail correspondence that resulted from the shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic and have yet to resume sending notices out.
Collis said that the agency is developing a plan on how those collections notices will resume and she said it is an important piece of information that taxpayers with balances due need.
Speaking here August 9, 2023, at the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum event, Collins expressed concern that people are saying “hey, the IRS probably forgot about me because it’s been 18 months. And I am concerned that people do not realize that interest and the failure to pay [penalty] is kicking in.”
And while she urged IRS to resume collections notices, she also cautioned that it needs to be done in a staggered fashion so that the agency, as well as tax professionals are not simultaneously inundated with calls about these notices all at once, potentially creating another backlog as the agency continues to clear backlog pandemic inventories.
“So what they’re trying to do is stagger them,” Collins said. “Have then come out in different timeframes so that all of them don’t hit at the same time, … because if they turn the spigot on, how many phone calls are they going to get that next day? They won’t be able to handle that volume.”
Collins said the agency is looking at how to prioritize which notices should be going out first as well as possibly changing the notices to make them more informative for taxpayers.
“So, stay tuned on that,” he told attendees. “I don’t think it’ll be tomorrow, but I’m hoping that it’ll be months from now, not two years from now that we turn it back on.”
Another area Collins expressed concerns about is the changing of the 1099-K threshold to $600. She said that her office has been in touch with “the Venmos of the world” to try to get them to put systems in place that will help their customers differentiate between personal transactions and business transactions to help ensure that 1099-Ks that will be issued because of the new threshold will accurate.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen between now and January, but the IRS, and our office as well, has been trying to work on this so it’s not as big a problem,” she said. “But I am a little concerned because there’s going to be a lot of 1099 cases, potentially.”
Collins also offered a “spoiler alert” that the online accounts for tax professionals “will become useful.” She suggested it will not be the fully functioning portal she has been calling for, but there will be more functions added to it to make it a useful tool for tax practitioners.
“It will no longer be just a glorified Power of Attorney form, or the ability to file one,” she said. “It will actually have some usefulness. … Stay tuned.”
By Gregory Twachtman, Washington News Editor