The United States Postal Service (USPS) has an old saying, “Nothing stops the mail.” And for the most part, it’s true – even when not all mail is good mail.
On this note, many Americans have been walking out to their mailboxes this summer to a very unsettling piece of mail: A letter from the IRS. And like most communications from the IRS, this isn’t just a simple “how do you do.” It’s a notice that you still need to cut a check to Uncle Sam. While the IRS can induce panic, if you’ve received one of these notices or happen to receive one in the days ahead, don’t fret. There’s a good chance that it was sent in error.
The IRS Isn’t Perfect
You see, like tens of millions of Americans, when the COVID-19 pandemic raged throughout the United States, IRS professionals were instructed to work from home too. This caused the mail to pile up at IRS headquarters. In fact, earlier this summer, it was estimated that as many as 12 million pieces of mail had still yet to be opened, many of which were likely tax filings and checks to settle with Uncle Sam. And as workers began to dive into this backlog of mail, there’s a good chance that you may have received a notice for payment erroneously – because they hadn’t gotten around to processing it yet.
What to Do
Did you file your taxes for 2019 and owe money? If you sent payment via mail to the IRS and received a notice that you still owe payment, don’t grab your checkbook and write another check just yet. As long as you send the check before the July 15 deadline, you won’t be penalized. But how do you go about tracking down your payment that the IRS hasn’t yet received? Here’s a look at what to do:
- Don’t cancel the payment.
- Contact your tax professional and see if he/she has advice on what to do next. They’ll likely be able to help you track it down, especially if it was sent with your tax filing. Tax paperwork that’s sent via certified mail typically has a tracking number on it, which can make it easier to locate.
- Check your bank account to see if the check you wrote has been cashed. If it has, you should be able to print out the receipt copy and show it to the IRS as proof that you’ve settled any outstanding balance.
- Stay calm: Just because it’s worth repeating, if you haven’t done anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about. The IRS is open again and going through its backlog. Allow for some time to process your filing and your check.