IRS clears backlog from last season, but still faces 2022 crash

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Internal Revenue Service said Tuesday it will have cleared its backlog of taxes from last season…

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Internal Revenue Service said Tuesday it will have cleared its backlog of tax returns from last season by the end of this week.

And with 143 million returns from this year’s tax season processed so far, agency officials say there’s a greater likelihood of being caught up in processing all returns by now. the end of this year.

The agency faced a well-publicized backlog of tens of millions of tax returns and clogged customer service phone systems, which executives blamed on decades of underfunding and outdated internal computer systems.

“To date, more than twice as many returns are waiting to be processed compared to a typical year at this point in the calendar year, although the IRS has processed almost a million more returns to this point. day than the same time last year,” the agency said. said Tuesday in a statement.

The administration of pandemic-related programs — including stimulus checks and advanced child tax credit payments — has placed a new workload on the agency over the past two years.

That’s on top of an IRS workforce that’s the same size as it was in 1970, although the US population has grown exponentially and the US tax code has become increasingly complicated.

A Treasury official, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, said agency employees had worked 500,000 overtime hours to reduce the backlog.

Agency officials have petitioned Congress for an increase in funding for the agency.

In fiscal year 2020, the IRS processed more than 240 million tax returns and issued about $736 billion in refunds, including $268 billion in stimulus payments, according to the latest IRS data. .

During the same period, 59.5 million people called or visited an IRS office.

In a joint letter to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who heads the Senate Finance Committee, Assistant Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo and IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said Tuesday the agency provided more $298 billion in refunds to Americans this year, and error-free e-returns were processed within 8-21 days.

“Despite this progress, there are real challenges ahead,” the letter said. “Because the IRS entered this filing season with a significant backlog, millions of paper returns received in 2022 have yet to be processed.”

The agency has struggled to catch up with the ever-growing pile of work. The agency entered this year’s tax filing season with 8 million unprocessed returns from 2021, and by the end of this week, it will have weeded out the last of those that did not contain tax returns. taxpayers’ mistakes, he says.

Last week, the agency unveiled voice robots to help eligible taxpayers easily verify their identity to set up or change a payment plan while avoiding long wait times.

And in March, the agency announced plans to hire 10,000 new workers. So far, 1,500 new workers have been hired, according to the Treasury.

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