By FATIMA HUSSEIN – Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The IRS announced Thursday that it plans to hire 10,000 new workers to tackle a massive backlog that the government says will make this tax season the toughest in history.
The agency released a plan to work through the tens of millions of filings, which includes speeding up the traditionally slow hiring process, increasing reliance on automated processes, and hiring more contract workers to assist with mailroom and paper processing.
The implementation will be the big challenge, say tax experts.
The agency is facing a backlog of around 20 million correspondences, which the agency says is more than 15 times the size of a normal filing season. And the IRS workforce is just as large as it was in 1970, even though the US population has grown exponentially and US tax laws have become increasingly complicated.
Additionally, the need to manage pandemic-related programs has imposed a whole new workload on the agency.
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White House officials said the agency was unable to serve taxpayers even in years without a pandemic. A senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday to preview the new IRS plan, said processing returns will continue to be a massive challenge as long as the agency operates on 1960s infrastructure.
The IRS’s latest plan to address the current backlog includes establishing a 700-strong augmentation team to process new tax returns, adding 2,000 contractors to answer taxpayer questions about child stimulus and tax credit payments, and developing new automated voice and chat -Bots to answer taxpayer questions.
There are no plans to extend the current April 18 filing deadline, the senior official said.
The new IRS plan comes as lawmakers have persistently called for additional federal funding for the agency.
Congress’ mammoth $1.5 trillion package released early Wednesday would provide the Treasury Department with $14.3 billion, including $12.6 billion for the IRS. That would be the largest increase in funds for the tax office since 2001.
However, Republicans have questioned the need for additional funding. Florida Sen. Rick Scott’s “11-Point Plan to Save America,” unveiled in February, proposes a 50 percent cut in funding and staffing at the IRS.
The White House and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have flatly rejected Scott’s idea.
Caroline Bruckner, a tax professor at American University’s Kogod School of Business, said the agency has a “competitive disadvantage” when it comes to finding new employees because it has a reputation for employees being completely overworked. She said she relies on her own tax collection for students she teaches.
Bruckner said, “It’s absurd that we’ve put so much work into the IRS” without giving it the resources necessary to help Americans in the way that was expected.
Bruckner says in addition to increasing resources, the IRS also needs to “really change its narrative and the way it talks about its mission in order to serve and be one of the most important anti-poverty systems that we have in the world.” United States have”.
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