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Because of the coronavirus, individual and corporate taxpayers now have until July 15 to file and pay their 2019 taxes and first quarter 2020 estimated tax. The IRS has also given relief on certain actions pertaining to retirement plans and health savings accounts.

HSAs and retirement plans

Here’s a cheat sheet of the Internal Revenue Service’s adjusted deadlines for retirement plans and HSAs:

Contributing money to retirement plans – deadline July 15: People now have more time to contribute money to their individual retirement accounts for 2019. Since the due date for filing federal income tax returns has been postponed to July 15, the deadline for making contributions to IRAs for 2019 has also been extended to July 15.

Paying tax on money removed from retirement plan in 2019 – July 15: If people took out money from their IRA or workplace-based retirement plan in 2019, the deadline to pay the 10 percent additional tax also has been extended to July 15.

Taking excess elective deferrals out of plan – April 15: However, people who made excess elective deferrals to their workplace-based retirement plan in 2019 must still take those excess deferrals (and income) out of the retirement plan no later than April 15, in order to exclude the distributions from 2019 income. That deadline has not been extended.

Grace period for employers contributing to plans for 2019 – July 15: For employers whose tax deadline was extended from April 15 to July 15, the grace period to make contributions to their workplace-based retirement plans that are treated as made on account of 2019 now extends to July 15.

Contributing money to HSA or Archer MSA for 2019 – July 15: People now have more time to contribute money to their HSA or Archer MSA for 2019. Since the due date for filing federal income tax returns is now July 15, people may now make contributions to HSA or Archer MSA for 2019 at any time up to July 15.

IRS operations changing during the pandemic

Separately, the IRS announced that the agency is curtailing some operations during the COVID-19 outbreak, but continuing with “mission-critical functions” such as accepting tax returns and sending refunds. The following is an overview of IRS operations:

– The IRS has temporarily suspended almost all face-to-face contacts with taxpayers. All of the agency’s taxpayer assistance centers are closed and face-to-face service discontinued throughout the country until further notice. For taxpayers with appointments at such centers, every effort to resolve the taxpayer’s assistance needs by phone will be made.

– IRS.gov and many automated applications remain available, including Where’s My Refund, the IRS2Go phone app and online payments and online payment agreements.

– Limited live telephone customer service assistance is currently available, but local office closings, limited call site staff and high demand means that there is extremely high call volume. Wait times will be lengthy. The IRS strongly urges people to use IRS.gov for information.

– Practitioners are reminded that, depending on staffing levels going forward, there may be more significant wait times for the PPS. The IRS will continue to monitor this as situations develop.

– During this period, all face-to-face appointments at an IRS taxpayer assistance center are cancelled. Taxpayers do not need to call to cancel their appointments.

– While able to receive mail, the IRS will be responding to paper correspondence only to a very limited degree during this period. Taxpayers who mail correspondence to the IRS during this period should expect to wait longer than usual for a response. Even after normal operations resume as it will take the IRS time to work through any correspondence backlog.

– The IRS is continuing to assess the impact of COVID-19 on a range of compliance activity across the agency. The agency will continue working cases where a statute of limitation is pending. In some of these situations, the IRS will work with the taxpayer or their representative to obtain an extension of the statute.

– The Office of Chief Counsel continues to work to resolve cases in litigation, including those on calendars in various cities through July 3, that were recently cancelled by the U.S. Tax Court. Counsel continues to work on cases in litigation generally and to support and advise the IRS operating divisions on their enforcement and examination activities. Although Counsel is not meeting with taxpayers or their representatives in face-to-face meetings, or taking depositions, taxpayers should know that the agency’s attorneys are available to discuss their cases by telephone.

– At this time, employees within the IRS appeals division will continue to work their cases. Although appeals is not currently holding in-person conferences with taxpayers, conferences may be held over the telephone or by video conference. To the extent they can, taxpayers are encouraged to promptly respond to any outstanding requests for information for all cases in the Independent Office of Appeals.

– Currently, the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service remains open to receive phone calls at the local phone numbers but has suspended walk-in services in their offices and their toll-free centralized number is unavailable until further notice.

– The IRS continues to process applications for recognition of tax exemption for exempt organizations, rulings and determinations for employees plans and closing agreements for municipal issuers.

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