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GOP Lawmakers to IRS: 16M Outstanding Tax Returns Is a 'Crisis'

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What You Need to Know

  • There are 8.2 million unprocessed returns, according to the lawmakers.
  • The agency has failed to use $1.4 billion in supplemental funding to address the backlog, they wrote.
  • The IRS should consider temporarily reassigning agency personnel to significantly address the backlog.

With less than two weeks before the start of the 2022 tax filing season, top Republicans on the House Ways and Means and Appropriations committees are pressing the IRS to explain how it will deal with the backlog of 16 million outstanding tax returns.

In a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, released late Wednesday, the GOP lawmakers said that “the ongoing IRS return processing backlog and related customer service failures have reached crisis levels as the new filing season approaches — we write to ask for an explanation of what significant actions the IRS will take in the coming weeks to mitigate this crisis.”

The lawmakers urged Rettig to “take action to resolve the backlog as soon as possible,” noting that “at this point significant tradeoffs may be required at the agency to meaningfully reduce the backlog in the next few weeks, but we think the time for such tradeoffs and drastic action is now.”

This crisis, the lawmakers’ argued, “is not due to a lack of funding. We understand that the IRS began fiscal year 2022 with more than $1.4 billion in unobligated supplemental funds that it received from Congress over the last year. We would like to understand why those funds have not been used to address this crisis.”

Agency efforts to hire customer service representatives “have failed not due to a lack of funding, but due to a weak job market and a lack of applicants,” the lawmakers wrote.

IRS hiring efforts should continue, the lawmakers state, but “we also urge you to consider temporarily reassigning agency personnel to significantly address the backlog over the next month.”

The latest data from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the lawmakers wrote, shows the following backlog:

  • 8.2 million unprocessed returns.
  • 4.2 million returns in suspension.
  • 3.6 million pending amended returns.