“Guilty Until Proven Innocent” — Navigating IRS Collections During A Pandemic

You’ve just picked up your mail, and as you’re flipping through the stack of bills and promotional flyers, the little black logo in the top left corner of one envelope catches your eye and sends a pang of anxiety through your chest. 
The IRS is trying to contact you, and unfortunately, this time, it’s not to issue a refund. The Notice of Deficiency says that you owe more than you paid, and IRS Collections is tacking on a penalty and interest on top of that. 

You’re fairly certain that you filed your taxes correctly, but there’s just one problem — if the IRS accuses you of wrongdoing, you are essentially guilty until proven innocent. The burden is on you, the individual taxpayer, to prove that it’s the IRS that made mistaken calculations.

This dynamic is difficult — and frankly, unfair — on the taxpayer, even in normal tax years. But, as we’ve documented throughout the last couple of years, the IRS has suffered greatly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

And once again, it’s the taxpayers who are shouldering the burden. 

Adjusting To The New Challenges Of The IRS

Taxpayers know that dealing with the IRS can often be an agonizing, drawn-out process. But, it’s important to recognize that the arm of the IRS that processes returns and refunds is separate from the agency’s Collections department. 

Even under normal circumstances, IRS Collections moves much faster than the rest of the agency. If the IRS determines that you owe them money, you might be surprised at how swiftly and aggressively they try to contact you. 
stacked pieces of mail

Over the last couple of years, the IRS has become overwhelmed by the struggles of the pandemic. Millions of unprocessed tax returns piled up in a devastating backlog. Stimulus payments landed in the wrong bank accounts. And the understaffed agency missed three out of four customer service calls, leaving millions of taxpayers with unanswered questions.

But the Collections department? They’re moving as fast as ever. 

This situation has created a perfect storm for taxpayers with debts to the IRS. Returning to our example from the top, if you receive a notice of deficiency from the IRS, you need to prove that the agency has issued the notice in error. 

But, given the agency’s current situation, you might struggle to get through to customer service, and keeping up with correspondence will be difficult. Your notice might say that you have “30 Days to Respond,” but how can you trust that the IRS will receive and process your response in time? 

In short, if you receive correspondence from IRS Collections, you simply do not have a meaningful opportunity to respond.

Call Boxelder To Get Through To The IRS

So what options do you have as a taxpayer? If the IRS is going to put you on hold, who can you call instead?

It’s always hard to tackle IRS debt on your own, but now more than ever, you’ll want a licensed tax lawyer in your corner. I can’t tell you how many clients have said that after our free tax consultation, they felt a weight lifted from their shoulders. 

Not only does Boxelder have experience settling thousands of tax debt cases, but we’ve been dealing with the IRS throughout the pandemic and can leverage our relationships and contacts to get debts resolved in a timely manner. 

From major debts to minor clerical errors, Boxelder’s experienced tax professionals know how to navigate the new rules of the IRS. In the past year and a half, for instance, we’ve seen a sixfold increase in cases for which we’ve ultimately filed a petition in Tax Court. Given the current delays at the IRS, this has become one of the most efficient ways to handle a variety of common cases, such as capital gains forgiveness. 

If you have been contacted by IRS Collections, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 303-317-6111. In addition to ultimately representing you before the court, our Denver and Wichita tax attorneys can decode your IRS Notices, help you understand your liability, and explore options for resolution.


Download Our Free Guide to IRS Notices

Since the IRS hasn’t been able to consistently answer the phone this past year, many taxpayers have struggled to make sense of their IRS mail notifications.

The IRS sends out many different types of letters to taxpayers. Some are urgent messages, others are not. Common IRS Notices include:

  • CP501/CP502 – Past due balance
  • CP71C – Reminder of past due balance
  • CP503 – Reminder to pay past balance
  • CP504 – Final notice to pay tax debt
  • Letter 1058 – Final notice of intent to levy
  • Letter 3172 – Alerts taxpayer about asset seizure efforts

Many types of IRS Notices have short deadlines to respond, so if you don’t understand your notice, it’s critical that you figure out what it means.

That’s why we’ve created a Complete Guide to IRS Notifications. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact our Denver or Wichita offices! 

Download Guide

Group 28 Created with Sketch.

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.

Group 28 Created with Sketch.

Take the Next Step

Get a free, no strings attached, thorough analysis of your tax liabilities.

Request a Consultation