WASHINGTON (WABC) — Congressman Josh Gottheimer held a press conference Monday to sound the alarm on the massive IRS backlog of six million individual tax returns from last tax season, all as the new tax season is underway.
Gottheimer appeared with local residents who had their federal tax refunds delayed for months, with the lawmaker saying more than 200 of his constituents had contacted his office with similar complaints.
“Since the start of the pandemic alone, we’ve helped claw back $1.2 million in tax returns for the people of North Jersey,” Gottheimer said. “This morning, I’m announcing my taxpayer action plan to help cut the bureaucratic red tape that led to this backlog at the IRS, get these returns processed for Americans, and get them their well-deserved taxpayer dollars in their pockets where they belong
The congressman is also urging the IRS to boost their hiring and training process for tax payer advocates, and he want the heads of the agency to report to congress within 30 days with a plan on how they plan to clear the backlog.
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Experts have been warning taxpayers tp expect serious delays from the IRS, which recently announced a second “surge team” to address its massive backlog.
The IRS has already redirected roughly 1,200 employees back into entry-level clerical positions, where they are manually filing paperwork and answering phones, to shrink the backlog and address taxpayer confusion.
The agency has also implemented mandatory overtime for employees.
IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig wrote in a recent op-ed for Yahoo! Money that the agency is “creating and redirecting surge teams to address the inventories,” as part of an effort to sort through the backlog.
The IRS is facing pandemic-induced backlogs from the past two years that, coupled with limited funding and an extra workload from stimulus programs, are making the current tax season even busier than usual.
Congress tasked the IRS with sending out billions of dollars in economic relief benefits like the stimulus payments and monthly enhanced child tax credit payments.
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Taxpayers have also faced enormous difficulty in connecting with someone at the IRS who could help them with questions. Customer service representatives only answered 11% of the roughly 282 million telephone calls the agency received last year, according to recent reports from the National Taxpayer Advocate and the Government Accountability Office.
The number of calls more than doubled compared with the year before.
(The Associated Press and CNN Wire contributed to this report)
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