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TAS now can help taxpayers with certain COVID-19 stimulus payment problems

Trump signature on COVID relief payment check closeup2

Congress is debating, sort of, the possibility of, among other pandemic-related issues, another round of COVID-19 economic relief payments (EIPs).

That's good news for folks struggling to make ends meet in the wake of coronavirus-related economic troubles.

But some folks haven't yet received the first stimulus checks created back in March under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Created to help, but…: Now there's some good news for some encountering relief payment problems. The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) now can help taxpayers in certain situations resolve their COVID-19 payment 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.

Perfect for EIP payment problems, right? You'd think so, but no.

Process is primary: Almost a quarter century ago when the when the Taxpayer Advocacy Service was given its marching orders, a global pandemic and how IRS involvement in a presumed remedy could complicate things wasn't on the radar.

And without regular IRS channels through which these matters to wend and eventually stall, there's no way for TAS to get involved.

TAS Collins graphicUnfortunately, that meant when EIP issues started popping up, TAS staff were told not to accept any cases that were solely about EIP problems.

Since that no-help-available edict 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, mean beginning Aug. 10, TAS will now accept cases for taxpayers whose EIP issues fall within certain categories and also meet other TAS criteria.

Five areas of EIP TAS help: 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.

And if things still don't work out in these cases, the Taxpayer Advocacy Service will, starting early next month, be able to step in and help.

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.

Positive first step: "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."

You also might find these items of interest:

 

Coronavirus Caveat & More Information
In 2020, we're all dealing with extraordinary circumstances,
both in our daily lives and when it comes to our taxes.
The COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to reduce its transmission
and protect ourselves and our families means that,
for the most part, we're focusing on just getting through these trying days.

But life as we knew it before the coronavirus will return,
along with our mundane tax matters.
Here's hoping that happens soon!
In the meantime, you can find more on the virus and its effects on our taxes
by clicking Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Taxes.

 

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Comments

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Jacqueline Moody

My EIP was unexpectedly offset by my husbands child support arrearages. I should have received $1700 (1200 + 500) And yet it was all taken for his child support. When we contacted the child support office in Virginia, we were told it has been sent back to BFS. As soon as I found out about the offset, I mailed a copy of the letter and my IS form. It was delivered in April. Obviously I have not received it yet, but BFS has received my money back. How soon will they process this payment for me ? Do I need to send in another IS form ? I am in DESPERATE need of this money!

Heather

It's about time injured spouses started getting assistance recouping our EIP payments that were improperly offset. Injured spouses are often a forgotten demographic, especially those of us married to individuals that owe child support. Everyone hears "owed child support" and automatically assumes our spouses are dead beat parents. Case in point being how this giant glitch that affected 867 THOUSAND households received little to no media attention and coverage, and the IRS is just now finally starting to do something 4 months later.

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