What to Do if You Receive an Unpaid Notice From the IRS


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When coronavirus began sweeping the nation, many offices were forced to shut down, including government agencies like the IRS. These closures led to processing delays, particularly with paper tax returns. As CNBC reports, the agency’s offices had 12 million pieces of unopened mail this summer—which included tax payments.

As the IRS continues to works through the backlog, the automated billing system has already issued nonpayment notices. Some folks have started to receive tax bills—along with penalties and late fees. What’s worse, some taxpayers’ cashiers checks and money order payments have expired in the unopened piles of mail.

Luckily, the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal learned about these out-of-date notices, and has asked the IRS to temporarily stop sending them. “The IRS should not resume sending notices to taxpayers until the backlog has been reduced to pre-pandemic levels and taxpayer accounts have been updated,” said Neal, in an August 19 statement.

What to do if you received an unpaid tax notice

If you made a payment by mail and received an unpaid tax notice from the IRS, you shouldn’t panic yet. Check your records to see how much you paid and compare it to the notice you received. Assuming these numbers match, you may have less to worry about—and if you do owe money, there are steps you can take to resolve it.

If you sent the payment by certified mail, double-check to see when the IRS received it. According to CNBC, you won’t owe penalties and fees as long as the agency received your payment before the deadline, July 15.

While it may be tempting to cancel a check for a payment you sent months ago, the IRS says this may be a costly mistake because the agency could charge a fee for the bad check. You should also make sure there is enough cash in your checking account for when the IRS processes your payment.

You can follow these steps to speak with a human to resolve your issue. You may reach an IRS agent Monday through Friday from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and you may avoid long wait times by calling early in the morning. To avoid these problems in the future, experts recommend filing your tax returns and making payments electronically.