IRS budget takes center stage as brutal tax filing season arrives

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Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen, who heads the Senate Appropriations subcommittee responsible for the IRS budget, said the panel is considering funding for the agency above the $13.6 billion proposed by Democrats. in October. “I would like to see taxpayer services get a bigger boost because of exactly the kind of backlog we’re in,” Van Hollen said.

The IRS had a backlog of more than 11.8 million unprocessed tax returns and 4.75 million pieces of taxpayer correspondence as of mid-December, according to the Jan. 12 report from the National Taxpayer Advocate.

The vast majority of phone calls have gone unanswered and some returns have been delayed for months, wrote National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins, who described 2021 as the toughest tax year yet and the predicted problems will persist.

IRS staffing has fallen about 17% since fiscal 2010, while the number of personal and business tax returns has climbed 13%, according to the report. Treasury officials said the pandemic had closed facilities, forced staff to take time off from work and spurred new aid programs such as monthly child tax credits and relief checks that increased the burden. from the IRS.

Collins’ main recommendation to address the problem is a larger IRS budget coupled with increased oversight. Center for Taxpayer Rights executive director Nina Olson, who has been a taxpayer advocate for two decades, agrees. She said taxpayer services were chronically underfunded, both due to politics and poor work by the IRS in anticipating their needs and advocating for more staff to answer the phones and fix errors. .

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