IRS in the Pandemic
Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, will hold a hybrid hearing to examine the role the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) played during the coronavirus pandemic, the financial condition of the IRS, and the state of the agency’s information technology (IT).
Over the past two decades, the Republican-controlled Congress has depleted the IRS of critical staffing and technology resources. IRS staffing has decreased by more than 30% since 2000, and the agency is still using IT systems dating back to the Kennedy Administration.
This disinvestment had severe implications on the IRS’s ability to deliver services to taxpayers and meet the agency’s mission—implications that are exacerbated in times of national crisis, as evidenced in the coronavirus pandemic.
In March 2020, the IRS implemented major tax-related provisions as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and began to process more than 160 million Economic Income Payments (EIPs).
As of late July, the IRS’s current backlog includes about 9.2 million returns awaiting processing and about 7.9 million pieces of unopened mail, including tax returns and check payments.
This large backlog will lead to delayed refunds to taxpayers, increased refund interest payments, and decreased revenue collection. The staffing and IT challenges associated with addressing this backlog also has the potential to affect the 2021 tax filing season and future enforcement.
This hearing will discuss the resources the IRS needs to successfully deliver on its mission and provide critical services to the public throughout the crisis and into the future.