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If you haven’t received your 2020 tax refund, you are in good company.
At the end of the 2021 filing season in May, the IRS had a backlog of 35 million tax returns that had yet to be processed manually, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Taxpayer Advocate, a government oversight agency.
The order book includes around 16.8 million paper tax returns, around 15.8 million returns pending further review, and 2.7 million amended returns. The order backlog is almost three times as large as in 2020 and has quadrupled compared to 2019.
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The coronavirus pandemic and a shutdown to contain the spread of the disease are mainly responsible for the mass accumulation, according to the report. Still, long waits for refunds this year can be especially detrimental, especially for low-income Americans who are eligible for certain loans or who are pending stimulus checks.
“For taxpayers who can afford to wait, the best advice is to be patient and give the IRS time to work its backlog,” wrote Erin Collins, the National Taxpayer Advocate, in her report to Congress. “But especially for low-income taxpayers and small businesses working on margin, delays in reimbursement can create significant financial hardship.”
An overwhelmed IRS
The 2021 tax return season started late and has been extended by an additional month due to the coronavirus pandemic.
To make matters worse, the agency was inundated with phone calls and couldn’t keep up. During the 2021 filing period, the IRS received 167 million calls, four times more than during the 2019 season. As a result, only 9% of calls were answered by a live customer service representative.
The popular “1040” line, the most widely dialed IRS toll-free number, received 85 million calls during the 2021 sign-up season, with only 3% of callers reaching a live person.
Overall, the IRS processed most tax returns in a timely manner in 2021, according to the report. Over the past decade, funding for the agency has decreased by about 20%, leaving it less equipped to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
We cannot allow the agency to face the human and technological restrictions of the past year.
National Taxpayers Attorney
Additionally, the report only includes data through to the end of the 2021 filing season, which ended May 17, meaning the IRS may have handled more of the jam since then.
In a June hearing with the Senate Finance Committee, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said the IRS processed more than 137 million individual income tax returns and received more than 101.2 million refunds totaling $ 281.4 billion as of May 28. Dollar issued. About 70% of taxpayers got money back in 2021, with an average refund of about $ 2,800.
Additionally, over the past 15 months, the IRS has issued approximately 475 million payments totaling $ 807 billion in economic impact in three separate rounds. The agency has also been tasked with managing monthly child tax credit prepayments starting July 15.