IRS chief warns of tax refund delays due to worker shortages, return backlogs
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The 2022 tax season is swiftly coming to an end, but IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig warned on Thursday that many taxpayers could see delays in their refunds as the agency confronts a worker shortage and severe backlog of unprocessed returns.
While testifying before the Senate Finance Committee, Rettig acknowledged that continuing fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic – and the many tax changes included in federal relief measures – is likely to delay tax refunds for some filers this year.
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"The IRS is serving more people and entities in a global environment than ever before while handling new and bigger responsibilities," Rettig said. "At the same time, we have experienced delays in updating our IT systems, which means the IRS and taxpayers must continue to use certain paper-based processes."
Although the IRS planned a hiring spree this tax season to process 20 million returns from previous years, the agency has so far onboarded just 2,000 of the 10,000 new workers it intended to hire.
There are roughly 2.7 million paper returns from 2021 and 2.3 million returns from 2022 that have not yet been processed. By comparison, the IRS usually enters the tax-filing season with fewer than 1 million remaining items to address. Still, Rettig noted the IRS had cleared about 90% of the "error resolution" backlog.