The IRS is stumbling on refunds and answers
While some in Congress are eager to give the IRS more money and power so it can squeeze more revenue out of taxpayers, good luck if you are one of the millions of people trying to get that tax refund you’ve been expecting:
The Internal Revenue Service ended the tax-filing season with 35.3 million unprocessed tax returns, more than four times what it had during the last pre-pandemic filing season in 2019, according to a new report.
Tasks that require human hands at the tax agency account for the biggest part of that backlog. The delays are affecting amended tax returns, paper returns and identity-theft cases, according to Wednesday’s report from the National Taxpayer Advocate, an independent ombudsman office inside the IRS. Also affected are tax returns claiming stimulus payments where the return doesn’t match information the IRS has on file.
Delays in processing can stall tax refunds and frustrate taxpayers waiting for an answer from the IRS.
“We can understand and articulate the challenges the IRS faced over the past year, but for individuals and businesses that waited nine months, 12 months, or longer to receive their refunds, the reality of the long delays was incomprehensible and in many cases, financially distressing,” said the report, which included data through June 23, a period that included the May 17 filing-season deadline for most taxpayers and the June 15 deadline for some affected by disasters.
What happens if you’ve got a question about your taxes? Getting a human being at the IRS to provide answers is harder than ever:
The pandemic and new tax provisions led to a flood of website visits and phone calls. Visits to IRS.gov more than tripled from the 2019 filing season to 2021. Calls to the IRS Enterprise phone lines this year were more than four times what they were in 2019. But just 9% of those were answered by employees, down from 25% in 2019.
The IRS has urged people to get answers from the agency’s website and its automated telephone systems.
Fundamentally reform the tax code and make the IRS, its problems, and all of its excuses go away for good.