WASHINGTON – (AP) – The Internal Revenue Service said Tuesday that it will have wiped out its backlog of last season’s tax returns by the end of this week.
And with 143 million returns processed so far from this year’s tax season, agency officials say they are more likely to be caught processing all returns by the end of the year.
The agency has faced a well-publicized backlog of millions of tax returns and closed customer service phone systems, which leaders have attributed to decades of underfunding and outdated internal computer systems.
“To date, more than twice as many returns wait to be processed at this point in the calendar year than in a typical year, although the IRS has worked through nearly a million more returns than at this time last year,” the agency said. said in a statement on Tuesday.
The administration of pandemic-related programs – including stimulus checks and advanced child tax credit payments – put a new charge on the agency over the past two years.
This is on top of an IRS workforce that was about the same size as it was in 1970, although the US population has grown rapidly and the US tax code has become increasingly complex.
Briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, a Treasury official said agency employees worked 500,000 overtime hours to reduce backlogs.
Agency officials have been asking Congress to increase funding for the agency.
According to the latest IRS data, during the 2020 budget year, the IRS processed more than 240 million tax returns and issued nearly $736 billion in refunds, including $268 billion in stimulus payments.
In that same time frame, 59.5 million people called or visited the IRS office.
In a joint letter addressed to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who heads the Senate Finance Committee, Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo and IRS Commissioner Chuck Rattig said Tuesday that the agency has given Americans more than $298 billion in refunds this year. more provided. And electronic returns without errors are processed within 8 to 21 days.
“Despite this progress, there are real challenges ahead,” the letter said. “As the IRS enters this filing season with a significant backlog, the millions of paper returns received in 2022 have yet to be processed.”
The agency is working to capture the growing pile of work. The agency entered this year’s tax filing season with 8 million unprocessed returns from 2021, and by the end of this week will have polished off the last of those that didn’t contain taxpayer errors, it says.
Last week, the agency unveiled voice bots to help eligible taxpayers easily verify their identity so that they can set up or modify a payment plan while avoiding long waits.
And in March, the agency announced plans to hire 10,000 new employees. According to the Treasury, 1,500 new employees have been hired so far.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.