House Ways and Means Committee 'Alarmed' Over Processing Delays at IRS

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Feb 22, 2021
The House Ways and Means Committee, in a recent letter, assailed the IRS and its commissioner, Charles Rettig, for what it saidwas an unacceptably slow start to the filing season. The letter noted that, despite having had more time to prepare than last year, the agency has processed far fewer returns than could be expected, given last year's figures. By around Feb. 14, 2020, the agency had processed 40 million returns; the committee's letter said that, so far this year, it has processed only 14 million. The letter also noted that there are still 6.9 million 2019 returns that have yet to be processed. Further, delays will likely continue, as the committee pointed out that two of the four IRS locations processing refunds, Kansas City and Austin, have been closed due to inclement weather. Meanwhile, the letter said, taxpayers have been seeking surging levels of support via both the IRS website and call centers, but few seem able to get help.

The House Ways and Means Committee asked the commissioner to tell them, essentially, how it plans to deal with the situation.

While so far there is no known response from Rettig, it is reasonable to assume he might say that the IRS has been busier than normal, as it has also been made responsible for distributing stimulus payments and other pandemic aid, though this too has not gone 100 percent smoothly.

This is the second time in a short period whern the House Ways and Means Committee critiqued Rettig; just last week, it sent a letter about repeated instances of the agency sending out erroneous notices taxpayers such as one that told them they did not qualify for the full stimulus. The letter specifically concerned notices erroneously telling taxpayers that they did not file their 2019 returns. It held up the incident as part of an overall pattern that constitutes "a massive failure of leadership at the highest level."

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