By Victor Trammell
If you have yet to get a tax refund or have waited hours for an IRS representative to talk on the phone, you are not unusual — and the IRS is aware of this.
The beleaguered agency has now declared that it is putting in place an “aggressive approach” to reduce its enormous stockpile of filings. Aiming to recruit 10,000 more personnel, forming a “surge squad” to deal with receiving new and revised returns, and streamlining mechanisms for engaging directly with taxpayers are among the proposed initiatives.
Per a national taxpayer advocate named Erin Collins, the IRS had six million outstanding forms to process as of mid-December 2021.
The outbreak was a triple whammy for the IRS, which was already overworked and underpaid. Agents had to adapt to new working circumstances. They were tasked with delivering stimulus funds, as well as the child tax credit monthly.
Per the New York Times, the IRS is also operating on technology that dates back to the 1960s, and issues such as a shortage of staples and carts for transferring data around are also eating up staff’ time.
Meanwhile, millions of filers are still waiting for refunds from previous years, putting a financial and emotional strain on them.
The IRS’s new strategy includes increasing the option for taxpayers to obtain a callback rather than waiting on hold, which the IRS claims has saved over one million hours of waiting time only this fiscal year.
Congress is taking some small efforts to relieve the pressure on the agency. On March 9, the House passed a huge federal budget measure that includes an additional $12.6 billion for the IRS, among other things.
The money would go toward clearing a vast backlog of paper returns and modernizing some of the agency’s systems and internet portals. It was the greatest inflow of government funds in two decades, according to Democrats.
The budget bill is expected to pass the Senate and reach President Joe Biden’s desk shortly.