If letters from the IRS make you break out in a cold sweat, here's some good news: You might not get quite so many this year.
As of Feb. 9, the IRS is suspending automated warning letters for this year's tax filing season thanks to a backlog of 6 million unprocessed individual tax returns dating all the way back to 2019. The letters would normally go out automatically to warn people that their taxes are overdue.
However, because of the backlog and the automated process for sending out the warning letters, it's likely that letters would go to many filers whose previous years' taxes have been received but not yet processed. Stopping the letters altogether will avoid confusion and cut down on the anxiety that the letters may cause, the IRS says.
The IRS is hitting pause on more than a dozen types of letters. They include balance due notices, unfiled tax return notices, and final notices. Of course, you're only off the hook if the letters stemmed from yet-to-be-processed information. "If a taxpayer or tax professional believes a notice is accurate, they should act to rectify the situation for the well-being of the taxpayer," the IRS warns. "For example, the IRS cautions people with a balance due that interest and penalties can continue to accrue."
In a typical year, the IRS begins each filing season with about 1 million unprocessed returns, but thanks to antiquated computer systems and pandemic-related staffing problems, it currently has six times that amount still to be processed.
Trust that the IRS will get through its massive backlog eventually, so even if you don't get a warning letter, it's a good bet Uncle Sam will get his money one way or another.