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Chairman Connolly, Rep. Porter Urge IRS to Clear Tax Return Backlog, Prioritize Low Income Families

Today, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, and Rep. Katie Porter, the Subcommittee’s Vice Chairwoman, sent a letter to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) urging the agency to eliminate the massive backlog of approximately six million tax returns ahead of the 2022 tax season.  In their letter, the Members implored the IRS to prioritize the returns of individuals with the lowest incomes who, without their refunds, face eviction, food insecurity, or an inability to afford needed medications or treatments.

“We understand that much of the backlog is caused by the time-consuming nature of many of these cases and the agency’s resource constraints, but that does not negate the IRS’s responsibilities,” the Members wrote.  “Taxpayers need their refunds, they need open and honest communication from their government, and they need compassion in these extraordinary times.”

In response to multiple requests from the Subcommittee in recent years, the IRS has cited a lack of employees and resources to meet the demands placed upon the agency.  Severe financial, technical, and staffing problems at the IRS are due in large part to years of budget cuts and partisan attacks led by Republicans in Congress.  Despite efforts by Democrats in the House of Representatives to adequately fund and prepare the IRS to function effectively, the agency remains crippled by backlogs and reportedly expects a “frustrating” 2021 filing season.

Among the approximately six million backlogged tax returns are nearly three million unprocessed amended 2020 returns, according to the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS).  This backlog is so severe that TAS has suspended accepting cases where the sole issue involves processing an amended return until the IRS is able to work through the backlog.

There are millions of Americans facing economic hardships for whom these continued delays may exacerbate their financial insecurity.  Due to the pandemic, most Americans have less than three months of emergency savings, and a quarter of Americans have no emergency savings at all.

In today’s letter, Chairman Connolly and Rep. Porter requested the IRS provide a Member-level briefing by January 31, 2022, on the agency’s plan to process the tax filings of vulnerable individuals, families, and small businesses. 

Click here to read the letter to the Internal Revenue Service.

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