The Biden administration’s infatuation with expanding IRS enforcement is still alive, though, barely. But what of the IRS itself? It seem the agency is having problems processing returns – and more importantly, tax refunds.

According to the National Taxpayer Advocate’s office, the IRS backlog has gotten so bad, the Advocate is no longer able to take on some new cases:

As of October 30, 2021, the IRS had a backlog of over 2.7 million unprocessed amended returns. The IRS is processing these returns in the order received, and the current processing time posted on its operational page is more than 20 weeks. Our cases indicate that the processing time is considerably longer than 20 weeks, and as such, I have made the difficult decision to suspend accepting cases where the sole issue involves the processing of amended returns until the IRS is able to work through its backlog. We are also analyzing the upcoming filing season and expect to issue revised guidance for original filed returns.

The pile of unprocessed returns has become a source of frustration and hardship:

We recognize that many taxpayers whose amended returns the IRS has not processed have been waiting for their refunds for months. Some are experiencing financial hardships and desperately need the funds. Most are confused, frustrated, and concerned that the delay may mean they did something wrong. The IRS reports that its Where’s My Amended Return tool indicates that a taxpayer’s amended return was received within three weeks of filing. Taxpayers can use the tool to track the status of their return. This tool is available on and can provide the status of amended returns for the current tax year and up to three prior tax years. One caveat – the tool cannot provide the status of amended returns with a foreign address, business tax amended returns, carryback applications, and amended returns processed by a specialized unit. If you are looking for updated information on IRS operations and backlogs, the IRS has created a dashboard that it is regularly updating.

Although TAS cannot assist in individual cases, we have been advocating within the IRS for systemic steps to reduce the processing backlog. On November 9, 2021, I issued a Taxpayer Advocate Directive (TAD) directing the IRS to complete processing all backlogged amended tax returns by December 29, 2021, or provide a detailed plan for completing processing the backlog.

Rather than more agents dunning taxpayers for money, the Biden administration should be asking for additional resources to get returns – and refunds – processed in a timely manner.

Or, we could make the entire process simpler and quicker for everyone with a flat tax.