IRS mobilizing 3,500 phone operators to answer stimulus questions

By Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.

The IRS announced Monday it is hiring 3,500 new phone operators to answer taxpayers’ questions about economic impact payments (IR-2020-97). The IRS cautioned, however, that “telephone assistance and other services” will remain limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, the IRS announced that it was scaling back operations, closing offices, and having employees work from home in response to the pandemic.

Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, P.L. 116-136, eligible individuals will receive an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples. Parents also receive $500 for each qualifying child.

Although taxpayers are supposed to be able to track their payments on the Get My Payment webpage, many people have not been successful in doing so.

According to the IRS, answers for most questions about economic impact payments are available in an automated message. The IRS is sending a letter within 15 days after an economic impact payment is made that details the payment the taxpayer received. That letter (Notice 1444) provides a phone number that individuals can call to hear the automated message. Those who need additional assistance at the conclusion of the message will now have the option of talking to a telephone representative.

The IRS also explained that it regularly adds new and updated answers to the most frequently asked questions about stimulus payments at its Economic Impact Payment Information Center and the Get My Payment tool. Taxpayers who want to know the status of their economic impact payment are reminded to check the Get My Payment tool regularly; the information is frequently updated each day as the IRS continues to process the remaining payments for delivery by mail.

The Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool is also still available for those who are eligible for an economic impact payment but are not normally required to file a tax return; the tool is available in English and Spanish.

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

For tax-related resources, visit the AICPA’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Tax Resources page.

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

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