Shaheen Urges Trump Administration to Waive Late Filing Penalties for Taxpayers

December 19, 2020

(Washington, DC)  – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and a bipartisan group of Senators sent a letter to U.S. Department of the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Charles Rettig urging the Trump administration to waive late filing penalties for taxpayers whose filing delay is caused by COVID-19. U.S. Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and John Kennedy (R-LA) led the letter.

“Many taxpayers are facing economic hardships and business closures due to COVID-19,” the Senators wrote. “Taxpayers expect fair treatment from their government, and the current unwillingness to provide an expedited process for taxpayers and their advisors to request pandemic-specific relief places an undue burden on them. We ask that you move to address these issues immediately so the American people can receive the relief they urgently need.”

In the letter, the Senators urged the Trump administration to: 

  • Create a special COVID-19 First Time Abatement option for taxpayers eligible for normal First Time Abatement where one can attest to filing difficulty directly caused by the pandemic;
  • Provide written guidance directing IRS Customer Service Representatives to grant reasonable cause and COVID-related abatement requests liberally;
  • Develop and advertise specific COVID-related examples that qualify for reasonable cause abatement; and
  • Create a dedicated telephone number, or dedicated prompt, for taxpayers and their advisors to call to request COVID-related penalty relief.

The text of the letter can be read here.

Senator Shaheen has worked to help alleviate burdens taxpayers have faced amid the COVID-19 crisis. In March, she introduced legislation with a bipartisan group of Senators that would give taxpayers impacted by COVID-19 more time to file their taxes. The Treasury Department heeded the Senators’ call and moved Tax Day from April 15 to July 15. Following reports her office received from Granite Staters of significant delays in the processing of their tax returns, Shaheen called on the IRS and Treasury Department to share more detailed information with taxpayers in New Hampshire and across the nation on the status of their tax returns and adhere to a reasonable timeframe to process returns and send refunds for tax year 2019.