National Taxpayer Advocate Issues Midyear Report To Congress; Expresses Concern About Continued Refund Delays And Poor Taxpayer Service
WASHINGTON — National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins released her statutorily mandated midyear report to Congress. The report expresses concern about continuing delays in the processing of paper-filed tax returns and the consequent impact on taxpayer refunds. At the end of May, the agency had a backlog of 21.3 million unprocessed paper tax returns, an increase of 1.3 million over the same time last year.
“The IRS has said it is aiming to crush the backlogged inventory this year, and I hope it succeeds,” Collins wrote. “Unfortunately, at this point the backlog is still crushing the IRS, its employees, and most importantly, taxpayers. As such, the agency is continuing to explore additional processing strategies.”
The report points out that the significant majority of individual taxpayers receive refunds. “At the end of the day, a typical taxpayer cares most about receiving his or her refund timely,” Collins wrote. “Particularly for lower income taxpayers who receive Earned Income Tax Credit benefits, tax refunds may constitute a significant percentage of their household income for the year. Thus, these processing delays are creating unprecedented financial difficulties for millions of taxpayers and outright hardships for many.”
Among business taxpayers, many have been waiting extended periods to receive Employee Tax Retention Credits for which they are eligible, in addition to their regular refunds.
Key taxpayer challenges this year have included return processing delays, correspondence processing delays, and difficulty reaching the IRS by phone.
Backlog of Unprocessed Paper Tax Returns