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IRS Releases Process for Withdrawing ERC Claims, FS-2023-24; IR-2023-193

The Internal Revenue Service could release as soon as today the process that businesses can use to withdraw employee retention credit claims.

The move comes in the wake of the agency announcing that it is halting the processing of new ERC claims until at least the beginning of 2024 and scrutinizing existing claims due to the prevalence of suspected fraudulent claims following a spike in claims in 2023 coupled with the saturation marketing by so-called ERC mills. Thus far, the IRS closer examination of claims has led to thousands already being submitted for auditing.

As part of the heightened scrutiny of claims, the IRS said it would create a process by which businesses would have the ability to withdraw claims before they are processed if they do a more thorough review and determine the claim is not actually a valid claim for the credit that was created as part of the CARES Act to help businesses that may have lost income retain employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I learned this morning that there is going to be an announcement tomorrow [October 19, 2023] on the withdrawal process initiative that the Service is going to be initiating,” Linda Azmon, special counsel at the IRS’s Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division, said October 18, 2023, during a session of the American Bar Association’s Virtual 2023 Fall Tax Meeting.

Azmon said that “taxpayers who have not received their claims for refund will be entitled to participate in this process,” adding that there is “going to be specific procedures that taxpayers can follow to request their withdrawal of their claims for refund.”

She did not provide any specific information on what the process entails, but noted that requesting a withdrawal “means that a taxpayer is requesting that the amended return not be processed at all. And it’s going to be required that the complete return be withdrawn.” This is limited to taxpayers who have not had their claim processed, have not received their check or who have the check but have not yet cashed it.

One of the reasons a taxpayer may want to withdraw a claim is “taxpayers have been advised that the only way the Service can recapture claims for refund is through the erroneous refund procedures,” she said. “That usually means the service asks for the funds back and if they don’t receive it, the Service asks [the] Department of Justice to bring suit within two years of the payment.”

But Azmon points out that taxpayers being told this are being given information that is not entirely correct, as the agency has issued final regulations that allow the IRS to treat an erroneous refund as an underpayment of tax subject to the regular assessment and administrative collections procedures.

“This is a way for the service to recover funds that a taxpayer should have received in an efficient way without the cost of litigation,” she said. “And it still provides the administrative processing rights for taxpayers to dispute their claims without the cost of litigation.

By Gregory Twachtman, Washington News Editor

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