Dear Commissioner Rettig,
Due to the residual effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been experiencing significant delays in the processing of tax returns and amended returns. As of December 18, 2021, the IRS has 6.3 million unprocessed individual returns and 2.3 million unprocessed amended returns. Additionally, many taxpayers and eligible Americans have still not received their unemployment compensation, Child Tax Credit payments, and Economic Impact Payments.
The delays and an inability to even reach an IRS customer service representative have caused the local Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) to receive a high volume of inquiries. One TAS Office, for example, has had a number of recent retirements and now has only three advocates remaining. Furthermore, we're hearing of workload shifts from other TAS offices in the region, compounding the problem. Considering the time it takes to train new hires and the constant increase in workload, the remaining TAS advocates will have an overwhelming number of cases to manage.
In addition, these delays are causing taxpayers severe financial hardships and loss. Along with the typical financial strain caused by not receiving refunds, there are additional "downstream" consequences from the delays of tax returns. Taxpayers, for example, may not be able to complete the down payment for a mortgage or apply for student loans because they cannot provide the required tax transcript. No taxpayer should have to lose out on the opportunity to purchase a home and or enroll in college because they are waiting for their returns to be processed.
We therefore urge the IRS to create a plan to efficiently and effectively process the backlog in mailed tax returns, as well as to assist TAS in the hiring and training of new taxpayer advocates, and to advise Congress of that plan.