House Tax Committee Chides IRS About Slow Start To Tax Season, Urges Tax-Day Deadline Delay
The House Ways And Means Committee wants answers from the Internal Revenue Service. In a series of recent letters, members of the tax oversight committee have chided the IRS about sending out incorrect tax notices, raised concerns about a slow start to the 2021 tax season and jammed customer service phone lines, and called for a new, later tax-day deadline for 2020 tax returns, given a backlog of 6.7 million 2019 tax returns.
For now the typical deadlines apply: Taxpayers have until Thursday, April 15, 2021, to file their 2020 tax return and pay any tax owed. The IRS started accepting 2020 tax returns on February 12, two weeks later than originally anticipated (there were all those Round 2 stimulus payments to get out, plus reprogramming IRS systems for December tax law changes). Note: the IRS announced today that victims of the winter storms in Texas will have until June 15 to file returns and pay any taxes that would have been due on April 15 (or March 15 for businesses), which is routine with such local disasters.
Here are some of the issues at hand, and how they might affect you.
Slow start to the 2021 tax season. In its first weekly report of the 2021 tax filing season to the Ways And Means Committee, the IRS said that it received about 20 million tax returns on February 12 and processed 14 million of them. By comparison, as of February 14, 2020, the IRS had received and processed 40 million returns. The IRS had already warned taxpayers of potential delays and a challenging tax season. Now that the statistics are out showing that the delays are real, the committee is demanding to know how fast returns will be processed. The IRS says it expects to receive 160 million individual tax returns this year. If you’ve filed and are due a tax refund, check out the IRS Where’s My Refund? tool to get a personalized refund date. Most refunds are sent within 21 days of e-filing.
Jammed customer service phone lines. The committee has asked the IRS to improve customer service by adding assisters to its phone lines (February 19 letter) as taxpayers struggle to get through. Call volume has tripled over the same period last year, and only about 25% of taxpayers seeking assistance are getting through to the IRS. Of that 25%—which represents 6 million calls—only 2.7 million taxpayers spoke with a customer service representative and 3.4 million calls were directed to an automated message. Taxpayers are turning in droves to the IRS website, too. Visits have more than doubled over last year at this time, from 165 million in 2020 to 369 million in 2021. Before you pick up the phone, check out the IRS website, which includes helpful Q&As such as Questions And Answers About The Second Economic Impact Payment.
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