The IRS Gets More Complex Under COVID-19

“ The IRS provides no information as to whether it has received and reviewed my 2019 return, and if for some reason the USPS failed to deliver my 2019 return, the IRS will judge my eligibility using the 2018 return.”

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I’m no expert at doing tax returns, although I’ve done my own for quite a number of years and I’m a lawyer (which means I’m supposed to be able to read and understand the law).  But between badly written IRS information and the COVID-19 lack of IRS staff on the telephone lines, things can get pretty hairy.  By the way, if you are wondering whether you are going to get your infamous $1,200 Economic Impact Payment from the Federal government, so am I.

I filed my 2018 tax return timely.  I filed my 2019 tax return on April 1, 2020.  Silly me!  As I always have, I sent my tax returns in by regular mail because I’m ineligible to file electronically.  But just to be sure, I sent the money I owed for 2019 in electronically.  That’s allowed.

I started wondering what happened to my $1,200 from the Federal government.  Not that I’m desperate for it, but it’s always nice to get money back from the Feds.

So I found the little IRS app. on line called “Get My Payment,” filled it out, and got this response:

Payment Status Not Available

We are unable to provide the status of your payment right now because:

  • We don’t have enough information yet (we’re working on this), or
  • You’re not eligible for a payment.

For more information about why you’re receiving this message, see our Frequently Asked Questions.

Now, I didn’t understand either of these responses.  But after a bit of research,  I learned that I might not be eligible for the money if my “adjusted gross income” were too high.  So I read further, where the IRS said:

A1. U.S. citizens and U.S. resident aliens will receive the Economic Impact Payment of $1,200 for individual or head of household filers, and $2,400 for married filing jointly if they are not a dependent of another taxpayer and have a work eligible Social Security number with adjusted gross income up to:

  • $75,000 for individuals if their filing status was single or married filing separately
  • $112,500 for head of household filers and
  • $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns

Taxpayers will receive a reduced payment if their AGI is between:

  • $75,000 and $99,000 if their filing status was single or married filing separately
  • 112,500 and $136,500 for head of household
  • $150,000 and $198,000 if their filing status was married filing jointly

The amount of the reduced payment will be based upon the taxpayers specific adjusted gross income.

Eligible retirees and recipients of Social Security retirement, survivor, or disability benefits (SSDI), Railroad Retirement benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and VA Compensation and Pension (C&P) will receive a payment.

For eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for 2019 or 2018, they receive the payments automatically.

Well, I knew that I had filed my 2019 return.  I went online to see if it had been received.  But I discovered that there is no device online that will tell you if the IRS has received your return.  If you are entitled to a refund, you can check “Get My Refund,” but that won’t work if you aren’t entitled to a refund.  So I did the second thing that the IRS suggested, which is to check my 2019 tax transcripts.  Unfortunately, all I learned from that was that the IRS hadn’t generated my 2019 transcripts 6 weeks after I had filed my return.  I called the IRS and found that they aren’t taking any calls at all about tax issues.  So I have no way of knowing if the IRS even received my 2019 return.

My situation is even more complicated because I know that I would be “eligible” to receive the $1,200 under my 2019 return but not under my 2018 return, because my Adjusted Gross Income was well about $99,000 in 2018 but below $75,000 in 2019.  So does that make me eligible or not?  I finally discovered an answer in Question 13, where the IRS wrote:

A13. You DO NOT need to take any further action if you filed a federal income tax return for 2018 or 2019. If you already filed your tax return for 2019, the IRS will use this information to calculate the Payment amount. If you haven’t filed your tax return for 2019 but filed a 2018 federal income tax return, the IRS will use the information from your 2018 tax return to calculate the Payment amount.

So, here I am – stuck.  The IRS provides no information as to whether it has received and reviewed my 2019 return, and if for some reason the USPS failed to deliver my 2019 return, the IRS will judge my eligibility using the 2018 return.  The fact that I paid all my 2019 taxes electronically won’t even be noticed.  And there is no electronic way of telling the IRS that I timely filed my return for 2019.

Agghh!

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