Practitioner Priority Service, other IRS help lines suspended due to coronavirus

By Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.

The IRS announced the evening of March 26 that it was closing the Practitioner Priority Service, a special phone line for tax practitioners. It had previously announced that practitioners should be prepared for long wait times when using the service. The IRS also announced it was suspending the e-Services Help Desk line and the e-Services, FIRE (Filing Information Returns Electronically), and AIR (the Affordable Care Act Information Return) system help desks, all until further notice.

Callers to the Practitioner Priority Service number now receive a recorded greeting, saying, “Live telephone assistance is not available at this time. Normal operations will resume as soon as possible.”

The IRS is also temporarily suspending accepting new Income Verification Express Services (IVES) requests and is experiencing delays with existing IVES processing. IVES is used by mortgage lenders and other financial institutions to verify a taxpayer’s income. It is also suspending CAF (Central Authorization File) number authorizations, a program that assigns a nine-digit identification number and is assigned the first time a person files a third-party authorization with the IRS. It is often used by practitioners who are filing powers of attorney to authorize them to represent clients.

The IRS explains that practitioners with e-Services accounts and with client authorization can access the Transcript Delivery System to obtain prior-year transcripts. Taxpayers can still use the Where’s My Refund? and Get Transcript services.

Finally, the IRS said it is not yet able to answer any questions regarding stimulus payments under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, H.R. 748.

For more news and reporting on the coronavirus and how CPAs can handle challenges related to the outbreak, visit the JofA’s coronavirus resources page.

Sally P. Schreiber, J.D., (Sally.Schreiber@aicpa-cima.com) is a JofA senior editor.

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