The IRS Needs Help

The IRS is a malfunctioning mess.  A recent report from the National Taxpayer Advocate, states that the IRS has failed to answer taxpayers’ requests for assistance.

I have been a tax lawyer for decades and have seen many different IRS problems over the years but this is the worst.

I am angry not for just my clients but for the millions of people who cannot afford a tax lawyer to get help. Tax lawyers often have access to tax practitioner hotlines to get quicker resolution of issues. The rest of the population has no such access.

Refunds have not been processed. The IRS’ computers continue to very slowly process backlogged returns and issue erroneous payment notices. As we speak, millions of taxpayers are waiting to settle issues with past tax returns and unable to get anyone on the telephone, while interest costs increase each day matters are unresolved.

A historically high number of returns needed manual processing this year, Erin Collins, the national taxpayer advocate, said in the report. At the end of this year’s filing season, the IRS had a backlog of more than 35 million individual and business returns.

IRS employees have worked hard during unprecedented circumstances brought on by the pandemic. But, covid cannot be blamed for everything at the IRS, which was having issues with customer service long before the pandemic.

According to the report, during the 2021 filing season, the IRS received 167 million telephone calls: over four times the number during the 2019 filing season. At one point, the IRS received calls at the rate of about 1,500 per second.

“IRS employees could not keep pace with this massive volume of calls, resulting in the poorest service ever,” she said. “Our ability to answer phone calls reflects the amount of staffing available,” the IRS said in its defense. “Pending budget proposals would help the agency’s ability to assist more taxpayers, including on the phones.”

The IRS is right. It is simply not given enough money to properly help taxpayers.

This is an aloof callous choice of our Congress. We can and should do better.

We must fully fund the IRS to get the service we all deserve.

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