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IRS BACKLOG UPDATE V


cbslee
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Copied from MarketWatch:

Long-languishing 2019 tax returns and tardy tax refunds are being held up partly because of a shortage of working printers and copiers at Internal Revenue Service processing centers, according to a new Treasury Department report.

Copy that, you heard right.

“Lack of functioning printers and copiers contribute to the inability to reduce backlogs,” said a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) report on the current filing season.

Some background on the printer problems and their wider significance.

When the pandemic first hit last spring, the IRS temporarily shut down its facilities and wound up with more than 20 million pieces of unopened mail and hard-copy 2019 tax returns.

Then began the slow process of digging out from the 2019 backlog — all while sending out three rounds of stimulus checks and then revving up the current income tax filing season, which ends May 17.

Meanwhile, taxpayers counting on 2019 refunds from their hard-copy returns waited and waited and waited. By the end of 2020, 8.3 million individual tax returns and transactions still had yet to be processed, TIGTA said.

The tax collection agency has 1.7 million returns still in process that were filed before 2021, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig told Senators last month. Most of those are 2019 returns, he said. The plan is to work through the backlog by the summer, Rettig said, noting that the agency is resorting to overtime and weekend shifts.

When TIGTA staff inspected Ogden, Utah, and Kansas City, Mo. tax processing centers, they wrote, “a major concern that surfaced during these walkthroughs was the lack of working printers and copiers.“The IRS workers at those centers said “the only reason they could not use many of these devices is because they are out of ink or because the waste cartridge container is full.”

That mundane office headache matters, the report said, because the copiers and printers are used to copy and churn out important tax documents.

“The employees we spoke with were concerned that they would have a work stoppage if these remaining devices became unfunctional. This issue has been an ongoing challenge since March 2020,” the report said.

42% of the printers and copiers used at the centers are either unusable or broken, and others are still functioning, according to IRS estimates cited in the TIGTA report. The snafu has to do with a new contract for printers, the report said.

The old contract ended in September and the new contract started in October 2020. But the employees speaking to TIGTA “indicated that the new contractor may not have been coming into the sites to replace the old printers due to COVID-19 concerns.”

IRS told the watchdog agency it’s working on the matter and replacing the devices. The IRS had no additional immediate comment beyond report.

The TIGTA report comes at a time when the Biden administration is seeking an increase in the IRS budget. If approved, the money would go toward measures such as adding staff to increase tax audits of rich people and corporations.

But opponents say a report like this shows that’s a bad idea. “This report again demonstrates the ineptitude of the IRS,” said the right-leaning Americans for Tax Reform, founded by Grover Norquist. “The agency’s inability to do its job is due to incompetence, not lack of funding.”

The IRS has so far received 121.1 million tax returns for this tax season, according to agency statistics through the end of April. The authors of the TIGTA report say they are concerned about whether the IRS has brought on enough seasonal staff to handle the current tax season and the backlog."

Truly unbelievable 😲  It's like watching a slow moving train wreck They still have over a million unprocessed 2019 paper filed returns.

 

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The fact is that we all probably have equipment that is more UTD than that of the IRS. 

Remember when they tried to tell us how small our shredder chips had to be? IRS is a disaster. 

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I can’t believe the IRS is not paperless. 
Who oversees the IRS? Who allows them to remain so archaic? We tax pros are held to higher standards than THEY are. 
It’s infuriating, really. 
BTW, this is Possi. While traveling and off my desktop, the app won’t take my other identity. 

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2 hours ago, Abby Normal said:

What are they copying and printing?

They're printing a whole slew of outdated-before-printing LETTERS demanding tax either not due or already paid, that makes our clients call US in a panic!

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13 hours ago, jklcpa said:

The fact is that we all probably have equipment that is more UTD than that of the IRS. 

Remember when they tried to tell us how small our shredder chips had to be? IRS is a disaster. 

The only things we shred are IRS notices (after scanning, of course), and old 8879s.

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The reason they are copying and printing is because many of their software systems aren't capable of sharing information.

The reason that their systems and hardware is so out of date is because  Congress hasn't appropriated the funds to update their systems and hardware.

Then on top of that Congress and the While House keeps making so many last minute changes.

I would have thought that this group of people would understand why we are in the mess we are in.

Unfortunately, I guess it's human nature to scapegoat the low hanging fruit.

I really feel sorry for the people working at the IRS because it really isn't their fault.

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10 hours ago, cbslee said:

The reason they are copying and printing is because many of their software systems aren't capable of sharing information.

The reason that their systems and hardware is so out of date is because  Congress hasn't appropriated the funds to update their systems and hardware.

Then on top of that Congress and the While House keeps making so many last minute changes.

This is all quite true.  However, they *could* put a stop to the outdated-before-sent automatic letters (pull the plugs!) and use those printers (or at least the paper and toner!) for other purposes.

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5 hours ago, Abby Normal said:

I hate the letters where the total payments are correct, but I just had them on a different line than the IRS does. I entered it as a 5th estimated payment but the IRS has it as an other payment. CHECK THE TOTALS!!!

We've had some of those, too.  Ridiculous.

OTOH, a few years ago we had a SLEW of minor corrections by Massachusetts - anywhere from $3 to $30 - with NO explanation, NO line item changes, and basically we could never figure out, for any of them, where the changes had come from.  Some were refunds, some were bills, all were total, utter mysteries.  At least, with the IRS notices, you not only know they're being stupid but WHERE and WHY they're being stupid.  As opposed to these state changes, where we were utterly clueless as to who might be at fault and for what.

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More Depressing Details:

"As of March 5, 2021, the IRS had 4,434 Submission Processing function positions that remain unfilled or for which employees are not working for various reasons,” said the report. “In addition, continued closures related to COVID-19 and limited service from the Federal Records Center impact tax record storage and retrieval. As of March 1, 2021, IRS management stated that they have more than 31,000 boxes (approximately 4.7 million documents) that need to be refiled or retired to a Federal Records Center location. As of March 1, 2021, the IRS estimated there were approximately 70,000 tax return requests that need to be fulfilled."

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Congress has been under-funding the IRS for so long, I usually give them the benefit of the doubt when they screw up.  I'm glad the administration wants to fund the audit department better, but I hope they also increase the general funding.

Meanwhile, i have a printer I'm not using....

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