- The IRS stated that it is implementing an “aggressive” strategy to obtain tax refunds for millions of Americans.
- Currently, the agency is operating on a shoestring budget and is sitting on millions of unprocessed returns.
- However, the initiatives to increase hiring and establish surge teams are only short fixes to underlying problems.
If you’re still waiting for your tax refund or have waited hours for an IRS representative to pick up the phone, you’re not alone — and the IRS is well aware of this.
The beleaguered agency recently declared an “aggressive approach” to eventually reduce its huge backlog of returns. The new steps include a goal of hiring 10,000 new personnel, the formation of a “surge squad” to deal with receiving new and revised returns, and the implementation of streamlined mechanisms for dealing directly with taxpayers.
According to national taxpayer advocate Erin Collins, the IRS had 6 million unprocessed returns as of mid-December.
The epidemic created an ideal storm for the IRS, which was already understaffed and underpaid, as it was forced to adjust to new working conditions while also issuing stimulus cheques and the monthly child tax credit.
It is also working on technology that dates all the way back to the 1960s, and according to the New York Times, issues such as a lack of staples and carts for moving data are consuming workers’ time.
Meanwhile, millions of filers are still waiting for refunds from previous years – a situation that is wreaking financial and emotional havoc.
Andrea Grant, a 38-year-old Wyoming resident, told Insider in February that she was awaiting payment of $9,000 from a May modified return. Because her return was not finalized, she was not eligible to receive monthly child tax credit payments for her daughter and granddaughter.
She stated that she was “scrambling to stay afloat” and to amass enough funds to keep her residence. Grant, like other Americans awaiting thousands in tax refunds, has frequently attempted to contact the IRS – and waited six hours at one time to speak with someone.
The IRS’s new strategy includes expanding the option for taxpayers to receive a callback rather than waiting on hold, which the IRS claims saved filers approximately one million hours of wait time this fiscal year alone.
Congress is taking some modest efforts to alleviate the pressure on the agency. The House approved a major federal funding measure on Wednesday evening, including an additional $12.6 billion for the IRS and numerous other spending programs.
These funds would be used to assist the agency in addressing a significant backlog of paper returns and modernizing some of its systems and internet portals. Democrats claimed it was the highest federal funding increase in two decades.
The funding bill is expected to pass the Senate and make its way to Vice President Joe Biden’s desk within a few days.
Democrats sought to inject over $80 billion into the IRS to bolster its ability to prosecute rich tax evaders as part of their stalled social and climate package. This may be reintroduced in a more condensed measure later this year.
“In the end, these measures are bandages for the 2022 tax season but do not solve the IRS’s far deeper fundamental problems,” the IRS and Treasury Department stated in a joint statement regarding the plan. “Had Congress effectively financed the IRS during the last decade, it would have entered the pandemic with the resources it required – and would not be sitting on millions of unprocessed tax returns.”
Are you an IRS employee with a tale to tell about the backlog? firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com are the reporters’ e-mail addresses.
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