Section 7803(c)(2)(B)(ii) of the Internal Revenue Code requires the National Taxpayer Advocate to submit this report each year and in it, among other things, to identify the ten most serious problems encountered by taxpayers and make administrative and legislative recommendations to mitigate those problems. In each of the ten Most Serious Problem discussions in this report, we are including an IRS narrative response. Our intent is to help readers see both TAS’s perspective and the IRS’s perspective on the source and nature of key challenges and potential solutions.
The main focus of this year’s report is the elephant in the room – the continuing customer service challenges taxpayers are experiencing and the negative impact of the filing season backlog. Last year, I reported that the period since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the most challenging that taxpayers and tax professionals have ever faced. The bad news is that taxpayers and tax professionals experienced more misery in 2022. The good news is that since the close of the 2022 filing season, the IRS has made considerable progress in reducing the volume of unprocessed returns and correspondence. We have begun to see light at the end of the tunnel. I am just not sure how much further we need to travel before we see sunlight.
As we enter 2023, the IRS must focus its resources on its core taxpayer service mission – processing tax returns, paying refunds, answering and addressing telephone calls, and providing in-person assistance to taxpayers who seek it. It is crucial that the IRS eliminate the filing season backlog once and for all. With the additional funding the IRS has received and the Direct Hire Authority provided by Congress and the Office of Personnel Management, the IRS is hiring and training more personnel to provide much-needed relief and assistance to taxpayers. But it still will take time until that relief materializes and taxpayers and tax professionals see the benefits. Being transparent and managing expectations will be important to regain public trust.
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