Expect the IRS to Take at Least 5 Months to Process Your Paper-Filed Tax Returns

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdowns, the Boxelder team has helped hundreds of clients file past due tax returns via mail. For one of those clients, the returns were filed on September 4th. We didn’t receive confirmation from the IRS that our client’s returns were processed until yesterday – February 4th.

IRS Logo

That’s a five-month delay.

We’ve covered how the pandemic has revealed major customer service issues at the IRS and caused a massive backlog of unopened mail. Now we know first-hand that your tax returns will likely take at least five months to process if filed by mail. That’s more than twice the normal processing time.

Of course, there’s a huge difference between e-filed (electronic) tax returns and paper filed tax returns. If you’re going to e-file 2020, there shouldn’t be nearly as long as a delay. However, many Boxelder clients start with missing tax returns, which must be paper filed.

The good news? You can use the processing delay to your advantage.


The Time to File Past Due Returns is Now

Filing past due returns is the first step in taking control of your tax debt. We have found that clients tell us, time and time again, the minute they decide to make that first step and call us, they feel immediate relief. While there is still work to do after your initial contact with our team, you are back in the driver’s seat. You know the scope of the problem and there is a game plan to solve it.

Once you file your returns, the failure to file penalty will stop immediately. You’ll receive credit from the day the IRS receives the return, rather than the day it is processed. The IRS will not hold their processing time against you. While your returns are still processing, you will be protected from enforced collections – wage garnishment, bank account levy, tax liens, etc. The IRS can’t bill or levy you until the returns are processed. And because of the delay, that will take at least five months.

In effect, the delay can function as a miniature Currently-Not-Collectible (CNC) Period. It’s the perfect time to put together a game plan. You can use it to make voluntary payments toward other debts, get current with your estimated tax, or even set up an S Corporation to reduce your tax liability.

Many of our prospective clients have worried that as soon as they file their returns, a Revenue Officer will immediately knock at their door. Even during normal times, this isn’t the case. Now you have an even longer runway to get your financial life in order. Consider the immediate relief that calling a Boxelder professional will provide, combined with the knowledge that you have time to get yourself back on your feet and start your comeback story.


Contact Boxelder Consulting

A little breathing room goes a long way. You have options now. Our team of licensed professionals can help you sort through those options and take action.

But please don’t use this delay as an excuse not to get started. Take the first step today and give us a call for a free consultation. We’re ready to help you take control. We believe in second chances.


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About the Author

A company founder standing by Colorado's Front Range

Tom Conradt

Co-Founder, IRS Collections Defense Attorney

Tom Conradt is the co-founder of Boxelder Consulting & Tax Relief, and has been practicing IRS Collections defense law for the past ten years. Graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Tom is the lead IRS Collections Defense Attorney and heads the tax resolution department. Tom’s favorite part about working at Boxelder Consulting is hearing about the relief that clients experience after they sign up and start seeing immediate results on their case. Tom enjoys all the outdoor activities Colorado has to offer, including skiing, hiking and climbing. He is also looking forward to the return of indoor pickup basketball.

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