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IRS chief says agency has no present plans to extend tax-filing season

IRS chief says agency has no present plans to extend tax-filing season
© Washington Post/Pool

IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said Tuesday that the agency doesn't have any current plans to extend the tax-filing deadline nationally after a group of House Democrats urged him to do so last week.

"We have no present plans to extend the filing season," Rettig said at a hearing held by the House Appropriations Committee's financial services and general government subpanel. "Keep in mind, it creates a lot of confusion for taxpayers. It also backs up the Internal Revenue Service."

Last year's tax-filing season was extended from April 15 to July 15 because of the coronavirus pandemic. A group of Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee last week requested that the agency take similar action again this year. The lawmakers said that many taxpayers are facing the same pandemic-related challenges that prompted last year's extension, and noted that this year's filing season started later than usual.

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Rettig acknowledged the calls for an extension and said the agency is looking at the issue.

"We have our eyes on it. We're aware of it. We're aware of people who are asking for it," he said.

However, Rettig added that the private sector started working on this year's filing season in January.

"They're well into it," he said.

Rettig noted that individuals can request extensions until Oct. 15.

While the IRS has not issued an extension of the filing deadline for all Americans, the agency announced on Monday that it is extending the deadline to June 15 for individuals and businesses in Texas as a result of winter storms in the state.

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One challenge during the current filing season is that many people who received unemployment benefits this year for the first time because of the pandemic did not realize that the benefits are taxable. As a result, there are many taxpayers who owe money to the IRS that they did not anticipate.

Rettig said that people in this situation should contact the IRS about payment-relief options. He noted that people can apply for payment plans online.

"I would hope that they would reach out to us for some flexibilities in terms of payment arrangements," he said.

The commissioner added that he expects IRS employees "to be understanding, patient and do the appropriate thing."

Another issue that has come up during this year's filing season is that some people were victims of fraud and have received tax forms, called 1099-G forms, that report unemployment compensation that they never applied for or received. 

Rettig said that in these instances, the identity-theft victims should file accurate tax returns that do not report the unemployment income that they didn't receive. They should request amended tax forms from their states, Rettig said.

Bipartisan leadership of the Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday sent a letter to Rettig asking that the IRS provide detailed guidance for people who received 1099-G forms for unemployment benefits they didn't get.

—Updated at 2:22 p.m.