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Democrats express concerns about IRS readiness for next year's filing season

Democrats express concerns about IRS readiness for next year's filing season
© Greg Nash

Top Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee pressed the IRS about its readiness for next year's tax-filing season, given the many obstacles the IRS has faced this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Clearly, the current filing season has been long and challenging for the IRS due to the ongoing pandemic, and we are concerned about another filing season fast approaching," Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealOvernight Health Care: Trump announces two moves aimed at lowering drug prices | Sturgis rally blamed for COVID-19 spread in Minnesota | Stanford faculty condemn Scott Atlas Trump announces two moves aimed at lowering drug prices IRS races to get remaining stimulus checks to low-income households MORE (D-Mass.) and oversight subcommittee chairman Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellBiden faces politically thorny decision on Trump prosecutions IRS races to get remaining stimulus checks to low-income households Democratic lawmaker calls for DOJ investigation of entire Trump administration MORE (D-N.J.) wrote in a Thursday letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.

Because of the pandemic, the IRS postponed the regular tax filing deadline for individuals' 2019 returns from April 15 to July 15 while maintaining the typical deadline for extensions of Oct. 15. The IRS directed most of its employees to work remotely in March, and employees who have since returned to their worksites are working to address a backlog of mail, including paper tax returns.

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Neal and Pascrell said that millions of taxpayers have yet to have their tax returns processed, and there are taxpayers who are still waiting for their refunds.

"With the current backlogs, it appears the processing of 2019 returns likely will extend into 2021," they wrote.

The IRS typically uses the end of one calendar year to prepare for the following year's filing season, developing forms and publications and training employees.

"While we remain troubled by the backlogs and issues attendant to the current filing season overflowing into the next year, we also are worried that the next filing season will arrive without the normal IRS preparedness and the necessary pandemic contingency preparedness," Neal and Pascrell wrote.

The lawmakers asked Rettig if next year's filing season will start on time, what the expected start date for the filing season is, and if the IRS is prepared for the upcoming filing season.

Rettig said in his written testimony for a congressional hearing earlier this month that the IRS has been preparing for next year's filing season for months.

"When one filing season ends, we are already well into preparations for the next in terms of identifying and planning for needed hiring, and for updates to forms and instructions, processing and programming," Rettig said. "For the upcoming filing season, we believe it will be more important than ever for taxpayers to take advantage of efiling and our online and virtual services to help them with their taxes."