The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently reported an increase in its backlog of unprocessed paper tax returns. The increase is significant, as the IRS was already behind. Now, instead of moving forward and catching up, the federal agency is behind by an additional 1.3 million returns. This translates to a backlog of over 21.3 million.
What is the IRS doing to address this problem?
Efforts to address the backlog include:
- Use of barcodes on returns. The agency may start to use barcodes on paper tax returns. This would save a great deal of time as the agency currently requires an employee to manually enter in the digits on every paper return. Not only will this save time on each return, but it will also free up workforce to help with other efforts.
- Expanded e-file options. Taxpayers who prefer to file online may not be able to due to an array of issues. For some, the IRS does not allow certain forms or schedules, for others Internet access is an issue. The agency is looking to reduce these barriers to increase the ability of taxpayers to file electronically. This will help to reduce the backlog, as the agency is more efficient with processing electronic filings.
- More employees. The agency has also stated it will work to increase their staff and ensure they are properly trained to help taxpayers navigate a complex tax system.
Taxpayers may also face delays due to identity theft. Over 300,000 taxpayers are unable to file their returns because another individual stole their information and filed a return. The taxpayers must now file an affidavit and the information needed by the IRS to establish that they are the subject of identity theft. The process can take a year or longer before the taxpayer can get their refund.
What does this mean for taxpayers?
Because of this backlog, taxpayers should expect the processing of their returns to take longer than usual.
Those who are experiencing issues with the IRS or a state taxing authority or receive a notification of an impending audit should know that they have options. The attorneys at Goldburd McCone are familiar with tax law and can discuss your rights and options in these situations.