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IRS delays will be 'extraordinarily high' again, warns The agency's taxpayer advocate.

The Internal Revenue Service will once again have "extraordinarily high" delays in processing returns, the agency's National Taxpayer Advocate, Erin Collins, told Congress today.



He warned that there is no magic bullet to get the IRS out of a “deep hole” in his appearance before the Subcommittee on Oversight of the House Ways and Means Committee.


The IRS is starting the 2022 filing season well behind the eight ball, Collins said, because it has millions of returns left over from last year that it hasn't processed, including 6 million unprocessed original individual returns (form 1040 series) and 2.3 million raw amended individual returns (Forms 1040-X) with more than 2 million quarterly employer tax returns (Forms 941 and 941-X).


Last year, the expert said, was the worst year for taxpayers trying to reach the IRS by phone. In 2021, only 11 percent of taxpayers were able to reach a customer service representative and for those who did, the average wait time was 23 minutes.


“There is an end in sight (to the delay), the question is how quickly will we get to the end… We are not doing the job that we should as an agency,” Collins said at the hearing.


The long-term solution, he said, will require investment in infrastructure, encompassing everything from basic taxpayer service and tax season processing to tax law.


Collins added that long wait times could be improved if the IRS employed customer call-back technology.


“Many taxpayers call the IRS multiple times before reaching out, and if used effectively, customer callback technology could substantially reduce the need for repeat calls, thereby reducing call volume and serving taxpayers more quickly. more effective”, explained the Taxpayer Defender.


The classification oversight subcommittee, Republican Tom Price of South Carolina, said the IRS has been trying to hire 5,000 people in the last year, but hasn't reached 200.


He stated that more long-term financing is not the answer to current problems:


“The long-term solution is to force the IRS to automate. If we were automated, we wouldn't be seeing the backlog that we're seeing. The IRS is a dinosaur.”


During the session, Bradley Schneider (D-IL) said the IRS's workload is up 20 percent since 2010, but the money the agency receives is down 20 percent.


The congressman said that one of the problems the IRS has with IT is that 90 percent of its IT budget goes to maintenance.


Collins acknowledged that IRS software dates back to the 1960s with computer languages ​​like COBOL and that the agency will not be able to significantly reduce its reliance on IT for maintenance until it can be modernized.


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