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Press Release Published: Feb 16, 2022

Oversight Republicans: IRS Must Provide Americans’ Tax Returns On Time

As backlogs continue to mount, the IRS is now warning of further delays

WASHINGTON—House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) and Committee Republicans today called on IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig to ensure Americans receive their tax refunds in a timely manner. The lawmakers express concerns that the IRS’ failure to modernize its legacy systems and expanded telework policies are harming the agency’s service to American taxpayers.

“We write to request information about the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) preparations for the current tax filing season, which the Treasury Department is warning will be ‘frustrating’ for both taxpayers and tax preparers due to processing delays and backlogs. Despite its reliance on decades-old legacy technology systems and the fact that the majority of IRS workers continue to telework remotely, Americans expect their tax returns to be processed in a timely and efficient manner. We therefore write to conduct oversight over the IRS’s ability to complete its critical mission and request information on what steps the IRS has taken to overcome obstacles presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and reliance on outdated technologies,” wrote the Republican lawmakers.

In 2022, the IRS has a larger backlog than normal, attributable in part to its reliance on a legacy software system built in the 1960s that requires employees to manually open mail and enter information into its system. COVID-19 related telework policies for IRS workers have compounded these delays and backlogs. Most IRS employees continue to work remotely. Currently, the IRS has more than 8.5 million pieces of backlogged work. In a typical year, the IRS has about one million pieces of backlogged work.

“For many Americans, their tax refund can equal six weeks of take-home income. The volume of tax returns and refunds completed each year shows the far-reaching impact that processing delays could have for the average American. Processed returns are also essential for those who may be entitled to apply for other government benefits such as loans administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration. It is therefore imperative that the IRS take steps to mitigate any processing delays, which can delay refunds and access to economic relief programs,” continued the Republican lawmakers.

In the letter to Commissioner Rettig, the Republican lawmakers call on the IRS to provide information on the steps it is taking to ensure Americans receive their tax refund in a timely manner, plans to improve its customer service, efforts being taken to modernize its systems, and remote telework and its impact on the agency’s service to taxpayers.

View the letter here.