As we look forward and plan our fiscal year (FY) 2022 objectives, this past filing season is still painfully visible in the rearview mirror. It was perhaps the most challenging filing season taxpayers, tax professionals, and the IRS have ever experienced. This past year and the 2021 filing season conjure up every possible cliché for taxpayers, tax professionals, the IRS, and its employees — it was a perfect storm; it was the best of times and the worst of times; patience is a virtue; with experience comes wisdom and with wisdom comes experience; out of the ashes we rise; and we experienced historical highs and lows.
Unlike any prior year, individuals and businesses across this great nation were forced to confront ongoing medical and financial challenges while juggling health and family issues. As a society, we adapted to the COVID-19 challenges by working remotely, attending schools virtually, and generally changing the way we did business and lived our lives. We witnessed the passing of over 600,000 loved ones, friends, and members of our communities; the closure of businesses; and the loss of millions of jobs. We also witnessed many examples of the good in our society: We saw new business ventures develop out of the ashes, and we observed firsthand the generosity and caring of our friends, neighbors, and complete strangers.
During the past year, more than 170 million individuals and millions of businesses received financial relief through three rounds of stimulus payments, Paycheck Protection Program loans, and Employee Retention Credits. The IRS and its employees were instrumental in providing this much-needed relief. I want to recognize and thank the IRS leadership and its employees, and particularly Taxpayer Advocate Service employees, for making sacrifices this past year, helping taxpayers during this difficult time, and staying true to our mission.