This is not news to many of us. Especially if you are a tax practitioner or a taxpayer that tried to contact IRS in the past year or so. And it’s been widely publicized. It was a tough year at IRS. But a new report from the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) gives us some insight as to the specific challenges faced by IRS during the 2021 filing season. The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the IRS. Their mission in part is to ensure that every taxpayer is treated fairly and that you know and understand your rights.
As with most lives and businesses on planet earth, COVID made life and operations difficult and challenging at IRS over the last two filing seasons. Late enacted legislation and additional duties such as issuing three rounds of stimulus payments compounded the situation. Add this onto ongoing issues of budget constraints and outdated technology. How bad was it?
In part due to the closing or limited hours of Taxpayer Assistance Centers due to COVID, legislative changes, etc., IRS had unprecedented high call volumes. Four times higher than last filing season. And hold times up 469%. In part because of difficulty reaching an agent by phone, visits to IRS.gov surged to 255% above pre-COVID use.
Another major difficulty IRS has faced since COVID is the huge backlog in the manual processing of tax returns. 35 million returns, where for various reasons, employee involvement is generally required before a return can advance to the next stage in the processing pipeline. Compare that to 7.4 million and 10.7 million in the two years pre-pandemic.
The NTA is hopeful the adversity from the pandemic will help focus attention on areas where IRS improvements are necessary and achievable. And so do we. Our refunds depend on it!
If you have any questions contact a Henry+Horne professional for more information.
BY DALE F. JENSEN, CPA