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IRS Chief: Backlog of Tens of Millions of Returns to Be Processed in December

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rettig told Congress today that the backlog of tens of millions of tax returns from last year will be processed in December.

Speaking to the House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Oversight, Rettig said this year's tax filing season, which began Jan. 24, is off to a good start with returns eligible for refunds processed from on a priority basis before returns with a balance due or fully paid. Defending the agency from him, he said IRS employees have performed spectacularly well during the pandemic.

Stating that the IRS audits high-income taxpayers more than any other category, Rettig said the most experienced agents are assigned to the most complex tax returns.

However, he acknowledged that the agency is being overtaken by major companies:

"These corporations can afford to spend huge amounts on legal advice, drag out procedures, and bury government on paper... People shouldn't be able to game the system."

Rettig said the agency is hobbled by funding year after year.

"In the absence of consistent, timely, multi-year funding," said the IRS chief executive, whose term expires Nov. 12, "we have been very much a paper-based organization operating in a digital world environment."

Meanwhile, the IRS continues to defend against digital attacks: He said the IRS is being hit with 2.4 million cyberattacks a day and needs to continue advancing its cyber capabilities "so that we stay one step ahead of the bad actors that are attacking IRS systems.

Opening the hearing, Interim Oversight Subcommittee Chair Judy Chu (D-CA) said only one in ten taxpayers who call the IRS can reach an IRS customer service representative for answers about the law. tax and account. She argued that a decade of underfunding from the IRS has led to the worst phone service in the agency's history.

The top Republican on the panel, Tom Rice of South Carolina, said customer service levels at the IRS have been poor for decades, but have worsened in the pandemic.

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