Taxpayer Advocate Warns Refunds Will Probably Be Late This Year Too

By:
Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Jan 13, 2022
GettyImages-494777797 Erin Collins IRS Taxpayer Advocate KPMG

IRS Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins warned that just as tens of millions of people had their tax refunds delayed last year due to administrative overload at the agency, this year will probably bring more of the same. 

The taxpayer advocate has already sounded the alarm on an IRS with too few resources for too few responsibilities, saying the overload has even affected her own office as well. As we head into the filing season, her warnings have only become more urgent. She noted that, last year, the IRS experienced a host of problems such as record-poor telephone service, month-long timeframes to respond to correspondence, and the "Where's My Refund" tool being unable to actually answer that question for many taxpayers. This year, she said, could be even worse. 

“There is no way to sugarcoat the year 2021 in tax administration. The year 2021 provided no shortage of taxpayer problems.” Collins said. “While my report focuses primarily on the problems of 2021, I am deeply concerned about the upcoming filing season”, adding that “Paper is the IRS’s kryptonite, and the agency is still buried in it.”

Her report recommended that the IRS utilize scanning technology and reduce barriers to e-filing; deploy “customer callback” technology on all telephone lines, so that taxpayers and tax professionals don’t have to wait on hold and can receive a return call when the next CSR is available; improve online taxpayer accounts and allow taxpayers to communicate with the IRS routinely by secure email; and create and update a weekly “dashboard” on IRS.gov to provide the public with specific information about delays. 

She also recommended that Congress provide sufficient funding for the IRS to improve the taxpayer service and modernize information technology systems; extend the period for receiving refunds when the IRS postpones the tax filing deadline; authorize the IRS to establish minimum standards for paid tax return preparers; expand the U.S. Tax Court’s jurisdiction to hear refund cases; eestructure the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to make it simpler for taxpayers and reduce improper payments; and expand the protection of taxpayer rights by strengthening the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic program.

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