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Americans Are Waiting for Refunds as the IRS Tax Return Backlog Grows to 21 Million

According to a federal watchdog, the IRS is still working through a backlog of more than 21 million paper tax forms, which is causing refunds for many Americans to be delayed.

According to a recent report by the National Taxpayer Advocate, Erin Collins, the IRS still needs to process 21.3 million paper tax returns as of May 31.

This is an increase of 7% from the 20 million paper tax returns that were unprocessed at the same time last year.

Collins stated in the study that the backlog “is regrettably still crushing the IRS, its workers, and, most crucially, taxpayers.”

“These processing delays are putting millions of taxpayers through unprecedented financial challenges and utter hardship for many.”

Even though the IRS requested that more than 90% of taxpayers submit their taxes electronically, about 17 million still sent paper filings, adding to the backlog of returns. Americans who file their taxes by mail are disproportionately older people.

On February 25, 2022, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) main office is located in Washington, D.C., the United States.

As a result, some taxpayers who filed forms on paper have experienced extremely long wait periods to get their refunds, with average wait times exceeding six months. According to the survey, some Americans have waited 10 months or longer.


The IRS contested the number of tax returns supplied by the national taxpayer advocate in a statement, claiming the true backlog is closer to 19 million, which is slightly less than it was the year before.

According to Jodie Reynolds, an IRS representative, “The IRS is dedicated to having healthy inventories by the end of this year and continues to make great progress addressing unprocessed tax returns.”

“Neither the most accurate nor the most recent figures are included in the National Taxpayer Advocate report for the inventory.”

The IRS stated earlier this week that it would soon finish processing all 2021 tax forms that were received without errors.

However, because personnel were directed to focus on the more urgent backlog of 2021 returns, the department now has roughly twice as many 2022 tax returns as usual that need to be completed, a Treasury Department official told reporters during a call on Tuesday.

By the end of this year, the person said, those paper returns with no errors would be processed.

On March 17, 2022, in Washington, D.C., IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig speaks before the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee.

The backlog of unprocessed returns resulted from delays caused by the epidemic, such as a worker shortage, the monumental effort of disbursing millions of stimulus checks, and adjusting to other tax changes in the several COVID-19 relief packages, such as increased child tax credit payments.

The IRS is gravely understaffed, according to IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. To sort through unprocessed returns from prior years, the IRS planned a large hiring drive during the 2022 tax season, but just 1,500 new personnel were hired. In the upcoming year, it intends to hire around 10,000 new employees.

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Additionally, this year, staff who process original returns worked roughly 500,000 hours of overtime, and 2,000 employees switched from working in other areas of the organisation to concentrate on processing returns.

By the end of 2022, the IRS wants to have “healthy” levels of inventory.

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