IRS Commissioner Provides Overview of Key Areas Affecting Taxpayers
By: John Connor
IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, writing in an ongoing series of articles about various functions of IRS, provided an overview of a number of key areas affecting taxpayers as of early September. The article is entitled “A Closer Look: IRS Making Progress on Key Areas Slowed by the Pandemic, but More Work Remains.” Rettig noted that “despite our best efforts, pandemic-related issues are still causing us to experience record levels of activity that continue to affect operations across the agency, including the processing of tax returns and refunds.” The Service has processed all “error-free paper and e-filed individual tax returns received prior to April 2021.” And, the inventory of the remaining individual tax returns is being reduced by about a million a week. “It’s critically important to get back to our regular levels before the tax season begins in early 2022, because we are hoping to be back to normal operations next year for processing returns and tax refunds,” he said.
The IRS is currently opening mail within normal timeframes, Rettig noted. “We typically receive between 1 million and 1.5 million pieces of mail each week and are able to process that amount on a weekly basis,” he said. However, if a return may be subject to manual review if agency systems detect a possible error or spot missing information, or if there is suspected identity theft or fraud. “This work does not require us to correspond with taxpayers but does require special handling by an IRS employee. As a result, in these instances, it is taking the IRS more than the normal 21 days to issue any related refund, and in some cases this work could take 90 to 120 days,” Rettig explained. He also noted that the IRS is having to correct significantly more errors on tax returns than in previous years. From Jan. 1 through Aug. 11, 2021 the IRS manually made approximately 11 million “math error corrections,” with approximately 9.1 million related to the Recovery Rebate Credit.