IRS, labor association say more workers, modern technology needed
With income tax returns due, Internal Revenue Service offices in Ogden and other U.S. cities have increased staffing to help process all the paperwork thanks to hiring events early this month and late last month.
Still, more workers — maybe more than 50,000 in coming years — and increased funding are needed, an IRS employee rep and IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said Monday, Tax Day, when returns for 2022 were due.
The recent IRS hiring efforts didn’t immediately yield the 5,000 workers sought for IRS offices in Ogden; Kansas City, Missouri; and Austin, Texas. And a labor association representing IRS managers used the occasion of Tax Day to press for modernization of IRS operating systems and more consistent funding.
The IRS has a huge presence in the Ogden area, with some 5,000 employees scattered at several buildings.
“The IRS continues to battle a backlog of over 2.4 million individual returns from 2021. IRS employees are struggling to manage a technology system older than most of the workforce — operating for its 61st consecutive filing season. And of course, taxpayers are struggling to get an IRS representative on the phone to answer basic questions,” said Chad Hooper, executive director of the Professional Managers Association.
Even Rettig noted that more needs to be done, lamenting underfunding of the agency, long waits by taxpayers for their returns to be processed and long wait times to get calls answered. The IRS’ annual budget has dipped 15% over the last 10 years in real terms, he said, and more workers are needed.
“Over the next six years, we estimate we will need to hire 52,000 employees just to maintain our current levels,” Rettig said in a statement Monday. “Every measure that is important to effective tax administration has suffered tremendously in recent years, with profound deficiencies resulting from underinvestment in human capital and information technology.”
He said the recent hiring initiatives across the country in Ogden, Austin and Kansas City resulted in offers to 2,500 people, short of the 5,000 posts that agency hoped to fill, but that the ongoing efforts to hire up to 10,000 new workers are going well.
Hooper said the most immediate need for the IRS is timely appropriation of funds, when the money is needed, not late, requiring continuing resolutions while Congress “bickers” over budget details.
Similarly, Rettig noted challenges — “our already scant resources are stretched thin” — but also cited bright marks in efforts to get refunds out.
“There is more to be done: Millions of returns are awaiting processing and billions in refunds are still to be distributed. But our work is paying off. Refunds are rapidly being sent to the vast majority of taxpayers within 21 days, with 70 million refunds worth $222 billion delivered through April 8,” he said.
According to IRS statistics, the IRS had received 103.32 million returns as of April 8 this year, up 2.4% from 100.92 million as of April 9, 2021. At the same time, 99.79 million returns had been processed as of April 8, up 9.5% from 91.15 million April 9 last year.