Senators Shaheen, Hassan, & Colleagues Urge IRS to Clear Backlog, Improve Customer Service for Taxpayers During 2022 Filing Season

February 18, 2022

(Washington, DC) — U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), joined a bicameral group of their colleagues in further urging the IRS to take immediate actions to reduce its massive backlog and improve its customer service during the 2022 tax filing season. 

In a joint letter sent to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, the lawmakers highlighted the pressing challenges that American taxpayers are experiencing in their day-to-day interactions with the IRS — with many constituents still waiting on their 2020 tax refunds. They pressed the agency to take new actions that can reduce the existing backlog and improve customer service. Specifically, the lawmakers called for the IRS to consider pursuing maximum overtime options for its staff, expanding its surge teams to address processing and correspondence delays, and seeking fast ways to train additional employees and volunteers. 

“As the IRS works to eliminate the current backlog of returns and correspondence, we request you to pursue additional actions to maximize the IRS’ current workforce to address the backlog in order to reduce disruptions this filing season,” wrote the lawmakers to IRS Commissioner Rettig. 

“We continue to hear from constituents who are still waiting for their 2020 tax returns, have received confusing notices about overdue payments they already paid, and cannot reach anyone at the IRS for assistance. Many of these problems stem from the millions of unprocessed correspondence items from 2021,” the lawmakers added. “We understand the long-term solution to ensure the IRS can manage its workload and provide timely and high-quality service to taxpayers is additional resources to hire and train employees across several departments and modernize technologies. However, those investments will take time, and taxpayers require more immediate relief, especially with the 2022 filing season already underway.” 

The full text of the Senate letter can be found HERE and below. 

Dear Commissioner Rettig:

Thank you for your ongoing work to eliminate the unprecedented backlog at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). With the 2022 filing season underway, we continue to be concerned about the backlog’s impact on taxpayers and congressional offices’ ability to assist constituents with IRS casework. As the IRS works to eliminate the current backlog of returns and correspondence, we request you to pursue additional actions to maximize the IRS’ current workforce to address the backlog in order to reduce disruptions this filing season. 

Our teams of congressional caseworkers work to provide timely assistance to constituents experiencing challenges with the IRS. We continue to hear from constituents who are still waiting for their 2020 tax returns, have received confusing notices about overdue payments they already paid, and cannot reach anyone at the IRS for assistance. Many of these problems stem from the millions of unprocessed correspondence items from 2021. 

In 2020 and 2021, the IRS was integral to providing financial relief to Americans during the pandemic, such as distributing economic impact payments and monthly Child Tax Credit payments as well as processing small businesses’ filings. While we appreciate the magnitude of these endeavors and strongly believe Congress must support the IRS with the resources necessary to fulfill its responsibilities, we also recognize that there are many taxpayers still in dire need and who have legitimate concerns about the current filing season. 

We understand the long-term solution to ensure the IRS can manage its workload and provide timely and high-quality service to taxpayers is additional resources to hire and train employees across several departments and modernize technologies. However, those investments will take time, and taxpayers require more immediate relief, especially with the 2022 filing season already underway. We were encouraged to see your announcements of forming surge teams to address the backlog and pursuing overtime policies. In order to maximize the impact of the current IRS workforce, we respectfully request information on the following question: 

What are the current overtime policies for different positions working on the backlog? Please provide information on overtime policies for employees typically assigned to processing correspondence, those temporarily working on surge teams, and any other relevant positions.

Additionally, we urge you to consider the following policies:

Pursue maximum overtime options for staff who are working on the backlog for those who do not already have maximum overtime flexibilities.

Allow additional employees to volunteer to join surge teams, such as employees with prior account management experience or those who could be trained in a relatively short period of time. 

Extend overtime options for additional surge team employees.

Thank you for your attention to this critical issue, and for the IRS’ work serving taxpayers. Your swift action on this issue will help alleviate the concerns of taxpayers across our country.

 ###