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IRS adding QR codes to tax-due notices

HEB app reading chip bag barcode and results
My local H-E-B Grocery smartphone app's barcode reader helps me discover the price of a product if it's not shown on the item packaging or store shelf. I love the technology almost as much as I love potato chips!

I love my grocery store app.

Not only does it offer digital coupons, it lets me make shopping lists, find the aisles where the products I want are located and if there's no price sticker on the item the shelf, I can use the app to scan the package's barcode code for that info.

Now the Internal Revenue Service is becoming a bit more like my local H-E-B.

The tax agency has announced that it will be adding QR codes to balance due notices that it sends taxpayers.

Breaking down the codes: A QR code, with the initials standing for Quick Response, is a cousin to the standard horizontal Universal Product Code, or UPC, bar found on most of the products in my pantry. Like those scanned chips pictured at the top of this post.

QR_code_for_mobile_English_Wikipedia_smallA QR code is, and I'm borrowing this from internet descriptions, is a two-dimensional barcode that appears as a square, often found in print material like magazine ads. The sample to the left is the QR code that takes you to the English Wikipedia's main mobile page.

But both the UPC and QR versions serve the same purpose. The codes contain added information that you can quickly access digitally.

What's the code, IRS? When taxpayers don't pay their bills, the IRS sends them either a CP14 notice or a CP14 IA, for immediate attention, notice.

With the addition of the QR code to the correspondence, the taxpayer can use their smartphones to scan it and go directly to IRS website. From there, they can access their taxpayer account, set up a payment plan or contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service.

This digital option, says the IRS, cuts out the middleman or woman. That is, you don't have to call or interact with IRS personnel in order to resolve your issue.

Since the IRS sends out more that 8 million CP14 notices a year to taxpayers. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic complications, the agency was strapped to provide timely telephone or personal contacts with taxpayers.

But now, says the IRS, a QR code on an official tax due notice will provide another avenue for access and tax issue resolution for millions of taxpayers. This electronic contact option should help alleviate some of the tax assistance issues for both individuals seeking help or information and the IRS.

"We understand there's a lot of information on the web, and we want to give taxpayers more secure tools that can more easily help them resolve their tax situations," said Darren Guillot, the IRS Small Business/Self-Employed Deputy Commissioner for Collection and Operations Support.

"These codes will give taxpayers immediate access to the most important information for them to pay their balances, set up payment agreements or reach out for help," said Guillot, adding, that it "will help make the entire process easier for taxpayers."

More codes coming: While not officially calling this a pilot program, the IRS did say that it is examining the possibility of adding other QR codes to other balance-due notices.

Now if the IRS would only follow H-E-B's example and turn credits and deductions into coupons.

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