|Despite trying to go paperless, the IRS is|
buried in paperwork. (WSJ image)
Tax Day 2022 is nearly here. But just when many Americans most need answers, communicating with the Internal Revenue Service can be harder than ever.
Need to send the IRS a letter? The extra workload from the pandemic has left the agency with a paper backlog of more than 20 million tax returns, amended returns and correspondence. On March 17, Commissioner Chuck Rettig told members of Congress that even though the IRS is using extraordinary measures, the backlog won’t be cleared before year-end. The agency, he said, is tackling the pileup on a first-in, first-out basis.
Calling the IRS is nearly impossible as well, unless you have a specific number for an audit or notice. For the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2021, only about one in 10 calls to the agency’s customer-service line reached a representative after call volume nearly tripled during the year, according to National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins. The lines are still clogged.
A third barrier to communication involves taxpayers’ access to key records. The IRS’s legacy system for retrieving such information had such rigorous sign-up requirements to prevent fraud that it rejected more than half of applicants.
|No tracking for returns filed with States,|
who are much more reliable than the IRS.
Filing our own 2020 return through the U.S. mail was the right move, because, as noted in January, the post office tracker proved that the return was delivered by April 15, 2021, while the IRS claimed it hadn't received it as of January, 2022.
Electronic payments and electronic filings are near instantaneous, but when it comes to proving that one fulfilled one's responsibilities, old fashioned paper is the way to go.