Taxpayers again warned of delays in getting tax returns processed

Taxpayers could see long delays when it comes to their tax returns, the person who heads a taxpayer advocate service told a congressional committee this week.

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Erin Collins, who heads the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers resolve their IRS account issues, told members of the House Ways and Means Committee that the backlog of unprocessed returns and staffing issues was likely to cause delays in processing returns.

“This past year has been the most challenging for taxpayers and tax practitioners I’ve ever experienced,” Collins testified. “Millions of taxpayers are still waiting for their refund from last year.”

“There are millions of tax returns and pieces of correspondence that the IRS received last year but could not process,” she added.

“The majority of those backlogged returns are paper returns,” Collins said. While most people file taxes electronically, the IRS still deals with a large number of paper returns.

“Paper is the IRS’ kryptonite, and the agency is buried in it,” Collins said, adding that paper returns can take months to process. “Paper remains at the heart of the agency’s challenges in processing tax returns.”

Collins also testified that if a taxpayer has questions for the IRS and tries to call to get an answer, the chances are slim that they will be getting anyone on the line.

Only about 11% of the nearly 282 million calls placed to the IRS are fielded by customer service representatives.

“As a result, most callers could not obtain answers to their tax law questions, get help with account problems,” Collins said.

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