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Relief for Taxpayers During COVID-19 Pandemic

To help taxpayers facing financial challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is providing taxpayers with increased flexibility, additional time to meet tax obligations, and relief from a number of compliance actions. The goal is to help Pennsylvania taxpayers and citizens during this unprecedented health crisis.

The department has issued waivers for certain requirements and the Governor signed legislation to extend tax due dates in order to give taxpayers more time to meet their tax obligations during this difficult time. To complement these actions, from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020, the department will adjust many of its tax compliance programs and processes to help individuals and businesses. This will allow Pennsylvania taxpayers three months to focus on their health, safety and adhering to guidance from health authorities.

Pause Payments for Existing Payment Plans

Taxpayers under an existing payment plan are granted the opportunity for payments to be suspended without canceling the agreement by emailing a request to RA-RV-CEC-DPP@pa.gov. The department will not default any payment plans during this limited timeframe, even if new delinquencies or non-filed periods arise. However, interest will continue to accrue on any unpaid tax balances.

Provide Flexible Terms for New Payment Plans

The department will revise general payment plan guidelines to permit greater flexibility on payment amount and duration of time. Taxpayers will now have the ability to request a payment plan for outstanding liabilities without the department imposing a lien. The department will also not require financial disclosure documentation for payment plans that are under $12,000 and can be resolved within 12 months.

  • $6,000 and less – Plans up to 6 months
  • $12,000 and less – Plans up to 12 months

Focused Customer Service

The department is available to answer taxpayer questions through its Online Customer Service Center, available at revenue-pa.custhelp.com. Taxpayers can find answers to thousands of common tax questions or submit their tax-specific questions to a department representative. The department will also update taxpayers on its flexible compliance measures.

Collections and Enforcement Activities

In an effort to provide taxpayer service during this unprecedented time, enforcement staff will be available for businesses to discuss proactive ways to comply with Pennsylvania tax laws. Small and newly registered businesses are encouraged to contact local District Offices in an effort to help avoid falling into common tax pitfalls. The department will work with businesses to help them avoid common filing errors, navigate the department’s website to locate specific guidance, and answer any questions about electronic filing and payment.

The department will limit the imposition of new enforcement actions on tax liabilities, but will continue to work to resolve debt for large and complex accounts that remain outstanding. In addition, the department will continue to pursue taxpayers that willfully avoid meeting their Pennsylvania tax obligations.

The following automatic enforcement actions will be temporarily reduced or suspended:

  • Liens – significant reduction in the number of new tax liens filed
  • Wage garnishments – action will not be taken for new tax debts
  • Bank attachments – action will not be taken for new tax debts
  • License inspections, revocations and citations – actions will be limited during this program
  • Requirements for tax clearances – tax clearances and compliance checks will be conducted consistent with the more lenient debt collection/resolution approach. Collectors will encourage use of the deferred payment plans.
  • Use of private collection agencies – new case referrals are suspended. Private collection agencies will be instructed only to respond to taxpayer inquiries for accounts previously referred by the department. 

Non-filer Notices

The department will continue to send non-filer notices and conduct automated call campaigns for business taxes as a reminder of their obligations. Businesses are encouraged to file and remit online using e-TIDES, the department’s online tax system for businesses. Find the REV-819 on the department’s website for a schedule of return and prepayment due dates.

Once returns have been filed, taxpayers who have a financial hardship can take that opportunity to resolve any outstanding liabilities by entering into a payment plan using the department’s new flexible terms.

Trust Fund Taxes

All collected trust fund monies must be reported and remitted in full in accordance with your filing frequency. The department will not issue an extension of payment dates related to trust fund taxes.

Tax Credit and Incentive Programs

Tax clearances statutorily required will continue to be administered timely to ensure that the Commonwealth can fulfill contractual obligations to award benefits to those participating in economic development programs.

Assessed Penalties

During this limited period, the department will generally abate  penalties provided that taxpayers have remitted all outstanding trust fund taxes that they have collected.

Desk Review and Field Audit

During this period, the department through its Bureau of Desk Review & Analysis and Bureau of Audits, will not initiate new desk reviews or field audits in most cases. There may be exceptions if it is deemed necessary to protect the Commonwealth’s interest in preserving the applicable statute of limitations or as it relates to refund claims. The department will work with taxpayers to complete its review of work that is in progress.

The Bureau of Audits will continue to work with taxpayers to complete audit work that is in process through correspondence where possible and avoid in-person meetings until at least July 15, 2020. The Department of Revenue will continue to take the steps necessary to protect applicable statutes of limitations. In instances where statute expirations might be jeopardized during this period, taxpayers are encouraged to cooperate in extending such statutes and the department will also be flexible with taxpayers in granting requests to provide more time.

  • In-Person Meetings – In-person meetings will be suspended. The Bureau of Audits will continue to conduct its audit work remotely where possible. To facilitate the progress of open examinations, taxpayers are encouraged to respond to any requests for information if they are able to do so. Where field work at a taxpayer’s site will be necessary, the department will work with taxpayers to schedule that work to resume after this period. Keep in mind that depending on developments, it may be determined that resuming field work is in the best interest of both parties due to availability of people and records. If all parties agree, field work may be approved to resume prior to July 15. 
  • Audit Penalty Abatement and Interest Relief – Existing audit penalty abatement parameters will be broadened for audits that are completed during the remainder of this calendar year. Additionally, to take into account the impact of halting field audit work, currently in progress sales tax, fuels tax, and IFTA audits that are completed and assessed prior to December 31, 2020 will include up to 90 days of interest relief to address delays in fieldwork.

Board of Appeals

All in-person hearings will be suspended until further notice. During this time, taxpayers are strongly encouraged to file all appeals using the Board’s online petition center at www.boardofappeals.state.pa.us. Read Board of Appeals Operations During COVID-19 Pandemic (.PDF) for more information.

Conclusion

The department is aware of the urgent need of our state’s taxpayers to have increased time and flexibility. This plan affirms our agency’s commitment to providing assistance in addressing their tax obligations. This is viewed as a first step in working with taxpayers and practitioners to help maintain and promote tax compliance. Over the next three months, the department will continue to evaluate if it needs to extend the program and if additional actions can be taken to enable taxpayers to comply with Pennsylvania tax laws. Where businesses and individuals have not been able to report and pay timely, we plan to fully explore how we can restore their routine voluntary compliance.