Earlier this year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS closed offices and ceased many of its operations and services, including taxpayer and practitioner phone lines. As a result, the IRS delayed most filing and payment due dates arising on and after April 1, 2020, until July 15, 2020, and implemented its People First Initiative to pause most compliance and collection activity until July 15, 2020. While the IRS continued to process electronically filed returns and payments during this period, unopened correspondence mailed to the IRS piled up in trailers, creating a severe backlog of unread taxpayer correspondence, including tax returns, claims for refund, and responses to IRS notices.
Now that July 15 has passed, the IRS has provided information about how it is restarting operations paused as a result of COVID-19. For instance, automated phone lines for taxpayers and practitioners have reopened, though wait times might be long. Many services remain limited, however, because significant agency resources are being devoted to opening mail. For example, the Small Business/Self-Employed Division has stated that its correspondence function should begin again in mid-August.