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IRS warns refunds could be delayed due to staffing shortages, processing backlogs

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IRS warns refunds could be delayed due to staffing shortages, processing backlogs
The recent wave of staffing issues caused by the pandemic have followed significant budget cuts to the agency. From 2010 through 2018, IRS funding was cut by 20%. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 10 (UPI) -- The Internal Revenue Service warned on Monday that acute staffing shortages will likely delay tax refunds and other services this year as the agency prepares for the 2022 tax filing season.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig told reporters that this year's window for filing tax returns for the year 2021 will run from Jan. 24 though April 18. There are no immediate plans for an extension, The Washington Post and CBS News reported.

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However, Rettig cautioned that "enormous challenges" faced by the IRS due to severe levels of understaffing will cause delays in many aspects of IRS operations, including sending out refund checks.

The IRS said Monday that the 2022 filing season will begin on January 24. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

Agency officials said they are entering the new filing season with an unaddressed backlog of "several times" the typical level of 1 million unprocessed returns.

The IRS concluded last year's season with a backlog of more than 35 million returns that required manual processing due to COVID-19.

The agency was also overwhelmed by a record volume of telephone calls seeking assistance, according to National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins.

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The recent wave of staffing issues caused by the pandemic have come in addition to a decade of significant budget cuts to the agency. From 2010 through 2018, IRS funding was cut by 20% in inflation-adjusted dollars, resulting in the elimination of 22% of its staff, the Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2020.

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