The IRS is allowing taxpayers to file by fax Form 1139, Corporation Application for Tentative Refund, and Form 1045, Application for Tentative Refund, for certain coronavirus relief, a senior IRS official said on April 13. On the same day, the IRS unveiled related procedures for claiming quick refunds of the credit for prior year minimum tax liability of corporations and net operating loss (NOL) deductions ( https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/temporary-procedures-to-fax-certain-forms-1139-and-1045-due-to-covid-19).
Forms 1139, 1045
“Starting on April 17, 2020, and until further notice, the IRS will accept eligible refund claims Form 1139 submitted via fax to 844-249-6236 and eligible refund claims Form 1045 submitted via fax to 844-249-6237,” the IRS noted in the Coronavirus Tax Relief FAQ posted on its website on April 13. “Before then, these fax numbers will not be operational. We encourage taxpayers to wait until this procedure is available rather than mail their Forms 1139 and 1045 since mail processing is being impacted by the emergency.”
In a tailored effort to implement sections 2303 and 2305 under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136), the IRS has opened digital transmission of Form 1139 and Form 1045 until further notice. Most notably, only refund claims made under the CARES Act sections 2303 and 2305 are eligible for the temporary procedures.
Generally, under the CARES Act:
- Section 2303 makes several modifications to NOLs, such as requiring a taxpayer with an NOL arising in a tax year beginning in 2018, 2019, or 2020 to carry that loss back to each of the five preceding years unless the taxpayer elects to waive or reduce the carryback; and providing a carryback for a two-year period of NOLs arising during a tax year that began in 2017 and ended during 2018.
- Section 2305 modifies the credit for prior-year minimum tax liability of corporations, including acceleration of the recovery of remaining minimum tax credits of a corporation for its 2019 tax year from its 2021 tax year, and permitting a corporation to elect instead to recover 100 percent of any of its remaining minimum tax credits in its 2018 tax year.
IRS Accepting Yet Not Processing Mail
Similarly, Sunita Lough, deputy commissioner for services and enforcement at the IRS urged taxpayers and practitioners during an April 13 Tax Policy Center (TPC) webinar not to submit Forms 1139 and 1045 related to the CARES Act by mail. Ordinarily, these forms may be filed only via hard copy delivered through the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) or by a private delivery service.
However, the IRS is currently receiving so much mail that the USPS can no longer hold it, according to Lough, adding that the IRS is “literally holding [mail] in trailers until employees can get back to work.” Thus, in an effort to “send a signal” that the IRS will implement the CARES Act without access to its mail, it is both allowing and encouraging the fax option, Lough said.
“Only fax Forms 1139 and 1045 specific to the CARES Act,” Lough said, adding that any other forms submitted via fax, even Forms 1139 and 1045 unrelated to the CARES Act, will not be processed. Further, the IRS specifically states on its website that any Form 1120X, Amended U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return, that is faxed to the fax numbers noted above will not be accepted for processing.
“If you are trying to decide between filing Form 1139 and 1120X, it is usually best to file Form 1139 to get a refund,” Kirsten Wielobob, principal, Tax Policy and Controversy, Ernst & Young LLP, said on April 10. “It is colloquially referred to as a ‘quickie refund,’” Wielobob said. Generally, the Form 1139 is not subject to joint committee review as the Form 1120X is, which can be filed electronically but can add a layer of complexity. Additionally, Wielobob cautioned that the delays at the IRS could mean filing Form 1139 by paper through the mail is no longer the “quick” option, which appears in line with both the IRS’s cautioning against submitting the form by mail and its newly announced fax option.