IRS backlog hits nearly 24 million returns, further imperiling the 2022 tax filing season

The IRS has failed to process close to 24 million taxpayers’ tax returns from last year. These refunds have been stalled more than 10 months now and this backlog is expected to slow service in the 2022 filing season. It is currently in bad shape, and the treasury department weighs in and warned in January that the tax season response will be subpar this year. The IRS’s productivity plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic as thousands of employees worked from home for months without access to returns, audits and other business — difficulties that followed years of budget cuts. The federal stimulus measures also added to the agency’s workload, as it emphasized getting relief money to millions of Americans. Paper returns took the greatest hit, as mail piled up on trucks outside closed offices for months. Adding to the challenges, a new report found that the agency continues to suffer from severe hiring shortages, inefficient practices and old equipment. That includes mail processing woes, since its systems have “outdated dust collectors” that cause paper jams. Poor scanners, meanwhile, meant the IRS last year missed out on $56 million because of “untimely check deposits,” since the agency could not tell whether envelopes it received contained checks.


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