The 2022 tax filing season is almost over, but IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig warned on Thursday that many people could have to wait longer for their refunds because the agency is short-staffed and has a lot of returns to process.
According to Rettig’s testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, some people may have to wait to pay their taxes this year because of the COVID-19 outbreak and the many tax changes included in congressional relief measures.
Rettig said that the IRS now helps more people and organizations around the world than ever before. At the same time, because of delays in updating their IT systems, both the IRS and taxpayers still have to use paper-based processes.
Even though the IRS needs to process 20 million old tax returns this tax season, it has only hired 2,000 of the 10,000 new employees it planned to hire.
About 2.7 million paper tax returns from 2021 and 2.3 million paper tax returns from 2022 still need to be processed. On the other hand, when tax season comes around, the IRS usually has less than 1 million things left to do. But Rettig said that by the end of the month, the IRS had finished 90 percent of the “error resolution” backlog.
“We’re on the right track,” he said.
As of April 1, more than 89 million tax forms had been filled out, and more than 63 million refunds worth a total of $204 billion had been given out. It’s possible that by April 18, the average payment will be $3,352 instead of $2,800, which was the average last year.
In 2021, it will be harder for the IRS to finish returns because taxpayers will have to include their monthly child tax credit payments and stimulus checks on their returns.
Rettig has said before that the agency is understaffed. Before the hiring spree, it had 20,000 fewer employees than it did in 2010, and the Congressional Budget Office says that its budget is around $11.4 billion, which is 20% less than it was in 2010.
Also, health problems caused by the pandemic have kept more than 20% of the IRS’s customer service staff from working for the past two years.
The IRS thinks that taxpayers who file their returns electronically and choose direct deposit will get their refunds in as little as 21 days. With the Where’s My Refund service from the IRS, you can find out where your tax refund is 24 hours after you file.
Due to the celebration of Emancipation Day in Washington, D.C. on April 15, tax season will end on April 18 instead of the usual April 15.