Tax return status: IRS still faces 2022 crush, 2021 backlog done

Still waiting for your refund? The IRS has been working to catch up with the ever-growing mountain of work after entering this filing season with a significant backlog.

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service announced Tuesday that it will clear its backlog of tax returns from last season by the end of this week.

And with 143 million returns processed so far from this year’s tax season, officials say there’s a greater likelihood of completing all tax returns by the end of this year.

The agency faces a publicized backlog of tens of millions of tax returns and congested customer service phone systems that executives blame on decades of underfunding and outdated internal computer systems.

“To date, more than double the number of returns are awaiting processing compared to a typical year at this point in the calendar year, although the IRS has processed nearly a million more returns to date than at this point last year,” the agency said in a statement on Tuesday.

Administering pandemic-related programs — including stimulus checks and prepayments of child tax credits — has imposed a new workload on the agency over the past two years.

TIED TOGETHER: Don’t want to wait for your tax refund next year? The IRS tool can help get the money sooner

Add to that an IRS workforce that’s the same size as it was in 1970, even though the US population has grown exponentially and US tax laws have become increasingly complicated.

A Treasury Department official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, said agency employees worked 500,000 hours of overtime to clear the backlog.

Agency officials have asked Congress for more funding for the agency.

In fiscal 2020, the IRS processed more than 240 million tax returns and issued approximately $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 Tuesday to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who chairs the Senate Treasury Committee, Assistant Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo and IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said the agency announced over $298 billion this year provided refunds to Americans. and electronic returns with no errors were processed within 8 to 21 days.

“Despite this progress, we face real challenges,” the letter said. “As 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 been working to catch up with the ever-growing mountain of work. The agency entered this year’s tax filing season with 8 million unprocessed tax returns from 2021 and will have finished the last of those that didn’t contain taxpayer errors by the end of this week, it said.

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

And in March, the agency announced plans to hire 10,000 new employees. According to the Ministry of Finance, 1,500 new employees have been hired so far. Tax return status: IRS still faces 2022 crush, 2021 backlog done

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