Struggling with Tax Debts Because of COVID-19?

We recently published a blog detailing the immense difficulty taxpayers have had in reaching an actual human being at the IRS. Years of budget cuts caught up with the federal agency as the pandemic produced a backlog of returns and requests. 

The IRS provided a number of relief options in the early part of 2020, including moving the reporting deadline from April 15 to July 15. Most of those relief options expired, but the agency unveiled the Taxpayer Relief Initiative (TRI) in November 2020. Many benefits offered in the TRI are active one year later. 

COVID-Specific IRS Relief Options

Most of the relief options provided under the Taxpayer Relief Initiative dovetail with longstanding relief that has always been available for taxpayers. Specifically, the TRI: 

  • Limited the requirements for entering into installment plans. Installment plans are offered to taxpayers who are unable to immediately pay down their tax debt but might be able to pay portions over time. Ordinarily, taxpayers who owe less than $250,000 must provide financial statements and “substantiation” to qualify. The IRS is removing this requirement for taxpayers whose initial payment proposals are sufficient.
  • Extended the time limit for short-term payment plans. The maximum time for completing a short-term payment agreement is 120 days, but the TRI extended this horizon to 180 days. 
  • Offered a suspension of collection efforts. Taxpayers who are unable to pay their tax debts (outside of an Offer in Compromise or installment agreement) may contact the agency and request a temporary suspension of collection efforts. This may effectively extend the total time a taxpayer has to pay outstanding tax debts. 
  • Allowed taxpayers with previously established direct debit installment agreements to request lower monthly payments. Instead of calling the IRS and speaking to a representative, taxpayers with this type of installment agreement may request a modification to payments online. 

Why Is It So Hard to Reach a Human at the IRS?

The pandemic presented obvious challenges for the IRS. The various relief packages, tax credits, and deductions meant more returns had to be manually processed. Phone calls received by the IRS in regards to the 2021 filing season were four times as many as the amount received during the 2019 season. And, the annual funding received by the IRS stands at only 60 percent of its needed funding. 


The IRS offers a plethora of relief programs to help taxpayers get back on track with their tax debts. The pandemic has forced the agency to offer expanded options, which is good news for taxpayers. However, these expanded options won’t last forever. Call our firm today, and we’ll help you get past your current tax woes.

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