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Why Does The IRS Harass Taxpayers Who Already Paid Their Taxes?


The IRS appears to be harassing taxpayers for more money after having paid their taxes on time and in full. Is this just bureaucratic incompetence?


The IRS appears to be harassing taxpayers for more money after they paid their taxes on time and in full. Last week, investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson shared her experience on Twitter.

“IRS has billed/threatened me for taxes already paid,” Attkisson wrote. “For months, they don’t answer phone due to volume of calls. I can’t check online because verification code never comes… Emails unanswered. New letter says they’ll seize my bank [account].”

Attkisson did not respond to The Federalist’s inquiries to share her story in greater detail, or whether her issues were eventually resolved. Her post, however, clearly caught attention with more than 3,000 retweets and more than 2,5000 replies, some sharing testimonies of a similar experience, others offering advice on how to get through to the IRS.

Several accountants have told The Federalist that they too, have witnessed the IRS harassing taxpayers for more money when they had already paid on time and in full, but were still threatened with penalties. None went on record out of fear of retribution from the all-powerful government agency.

Jordan Butler, a tax attorney in Columbus, Ohio with Carlile Patchen and Murphy LLP, told The Federalist that while he’s not recently seen the kind of harassment detailed above, it comes as no surprise citing recent experience.

“I do have a client who filed several years’ worth of tax returns in November 2020 and made payment of all past-due amounts,” Butler told The Federalist. “Now more than two months later, the client continues to receive levy and collection notices. The client has described them as ‘intimidating and unwarranted.'”

When Butler contacted the IRS, he said the agency chalked up the issue to pandemic-related delays in processing returns. The explanation, Butler said, made sense.

“If I’m not mistaken, many IRS notices are automatically generated,” Butler explained. “Without an individual processing the return and payment, and noting as much in the taxpayer’s account, the notices will continue to be automatically generated and sent.”

That’s likely what happened with Attkisson and others, combined with the difficulty of getting in touch with a real person.

When reached for comment, the IRS simply referred The Federalist to its operations page pointing specifically to its “Received a Bill or Notice” section outlining what taxpayers can do if they receive a bill already paid or have questions over.

“We’re open and processing mail, tax returns, payments, refunds and correspondence. However, COVID-19 continues to cause delays in some of our services,” the IRS website reads, highlighting review of tax returns even filed electronically as an area the agency remains behind.

“It would certainly be prudent for the IRS to make adjustments to its notice generation procedure, or provide some mechanism whereby taxpayers can submit proof that the returns have be filed and payments made,” Butler recommended. “While that will not speed up processing time, it should facilitate a hold being put on any notices being sent to such taxpayers until the returns are actually processed.”