IRS not processing paper tax returns due to coronavirus

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The Internal Revenue Service has stopped processing paper tax returns, with much of its staff now working remotely because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, and is encouraging taxpayers to file their taxes electronically during the three-month extension period for this year’s tax season.

The IRS said Friday that to protect the public and its own employees, and in compliance with orders of local health authorities across the U.S., some IRS services such as live assistance on telephones, processing paper tax returns and responding to correspondence are extremely limited or suspended until further notice. All of the IRS’s in-person Taxpayer Assistance Centers are temporarily closed along with many volunteer tax preparation sites until further notice. However, that won’t affect the IRS's ability to deliver “economic impact payments,” the stimulus payments of at least $1,200 that it began directly depositing Saturday in some taxpayers’ bank accounts.

While the tax-filing deadline has been extended from tomorrow’s original due date until July 15, the IRS noted that it’s continuing to process electronic tax returns, issue direct deposit refunds, and accept electronic payments. As of April 3, the IRS has received more than 97.4 million tax returns and issued over $213 billion in tax refunds.

However, paper tax returns are a problem this tax season with most of the IRS staff out of the office. The IRS wants all taxpayers to file electronically through their tax preparer, tax software provider or IRS Free File if possible. This year, more than 90 percent of taxpayers have filed electronically.

The IRS said it’s not currently able to process individual paper tax returns. “If you already have filed via paper but it has not yet been processed, do not file a second tax return or write to the IRS to inquire about the status of your return or your economic impact payment,” said the IRS. “Paper returns will be processed once processing centers are able to reopen.”

Similarly, the IRS's National Distribution Center is closed until further notice. The IRS said it’s unable to take any orders for forms or publications to be mailed during this time. Most forms and publications can be downloaded electronically at IRS.gov/forms.

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