The Internal Revenue Service is taking steps to discourage tax preparers and other taxpayer representatives from dropping off completed tax returns at its local Taxpayer Assistance Centers instead of mailing or electronically filing them.

The IRS said in an email to tax professionals Monday that starting this year, IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers generally will not accept bulk returns for processing and mailing, particularly when it affects taxpayer services. “The IRS hopes to eliminate the practice of taxpayer representatives dropping off completed returns for processing, especially during peak operating periods,” said the IRS.

The IRS explained that the intention behind the policy change is not to limit assistance to taxpayers or their authorized representatives, nor to limit taxpayer representatives’ visits to support their clients, particularly in situations where the taxpayer is facing financial harm or undue hardship, such as delinquent returns or to start or stop an installment agreement.

“It is designed, primarily, to stop the practice of dropping off returns solely for processing and mailing when the returns can be mailed directly to the IRS processing center,” said the IRS. “The TACs will accept returns with imminent statute implications, with remittances or other situations where it's in the best interest of the taxpayer and the Service to accept them.”

Local TAC managers will have the authority to make exceptions to this policy, the IRS added, and will accept drop-off returns if, in their opinion, tax preparation and other customer account services are not affected. The IRS added that it is encouraging all tax preparers to take advantage of the available e-file options to file returns electronically to avoid the need to have returns accepted and mailed at the local Taxpayer Assistance Center.

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