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The Internal Revenue Service is not living up to the expectations of its mission.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) continues to live up to its image as one of the federal government’s most dysfunctional and excruciatingly bureaucratic bureaucracies. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) took 167 million calls from taxpayers during the tax filing season of 2021, yet they were only able to answer 9 percent of those calls. The issues remained into the year 2022. To this day, the Internal Revenue Service has been the recipient of 73 million phone calls, of which only 10% have been answered.

The National Taxpayer Advocate revealed that there is a backlog of 21.3 million paper tax returns in its Objectives Report to Congress for Fiscal Year 2023, which was submitted in May of 2022. The advocate mentioned that approximately 139 million tax returns were submitted during the filing season of 2022, with 96 percent of those being submitted online. The Internal Revenue Service had a backlog of 35.8 million returns at the end of the tax filing season in 2021. This backlog consisted of unprocessed paper returns as well as e-filed returns that needed to be processed by hand. Out of them, paper processing continues to be the agency’s most difficult obstacle, and it is probable that this will stay the case all the way until 2022. The advocate pointed out that “many taxpayers are still waiting for refunds from their 2020 tax files,” despite the fact that there was a backlog of 6.2 million unprocessed returns and 2.6 million revised returns as of April 22, 2022. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had a total inventory of 29.1 million documents that required manual processing. These documents included more than 5 million pieces of taxpayer correspondence and 13.3 million paper returns.


In February of 2022, staff from other divisions of the IRS were reassigned to assist with the processing of paperwork and letters pertaining to taxpayers, and the IRS also contracted for more clerical support. Even if this is a step in the right direction, it is highly improbable that it will be enough to eliminate the backlog before the filing season for 2022 begins.

The fact that the IRS continues to rely on antiquated machinery and technology has only served to exacerbate the agency’s existing challenges. The Internal Revenue Service makes use of machinery that can examine the contents of an envelope to determine whether or not it contains a check. Paper returns have to be manually moved through a variety of processing stations when using these machines, which are all at least 20 years old. These machines are used for scanning paper returns. It can be extremely challenging, if not impossible, to locate replacement components for older equipment. The delays that have been created by outdated equipment and ineffective work methods have not only caused hassles for taxpayers, but they have also contributed to wasted spending on the part of the government. According to a report published by the Government Accountability Office on April 11, 2022, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was required to pay individual taxpayers $3 billion in interest on individual and business refunds in 2020. This represents a fifty percent increase from 2019.

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It is long past due for the Internal Revenue Care to find solutions to these problems and offer taxpayers with proper customer service. The mission of government agencies is to serve the people, but the Internal Revenue Service has persistently failed to fulfil this duty.

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