IRS plans to hire 10,000 workers to clear backlog of tax returns

The Internal Revenue Service said Thursday it expects a flurry of hiring this tax season as it tries to clear a backlog of more than 20 million unprocessed tax returns from previous years.

The agency said it plans to hire 10,000 new employees over the next year and hopes to recruit about half of those workers in the next few months. The IRS described the plan as an “everyone on deck” approach to getting out of longstanding staffing shortages that have been made worse by the pandemic.

“To ensure inventory is back to a healthy level for the upcoming drop-off season, we are leaving no stone unturned – taking a holistic approach to ensuring as many employees as possible are devoting time to processing returns,” said Charles P. Rettig, the IRS commissioner, said in a statement.

This tax season has been the toughest in IRS history, current and former employees say. Long-standing budget cuts and staffing shortages have collided with the pandemic, with the agency becoming the main distributor of stimulus packages, including direct checks and tax credits.

The IRS suffered from tight budgets for decades as Republicans sought to starve the agency. However, it received more than $1 billion in additional funding under the US bailout last year to improve taxpayer services. A House spending bill for 2022 passed this week would give the IRS $12.6 billion, the largest annual budget increase since 2001.

Hiring goals won’t necessarily be easy to achieve, as the country is experiencing a labor shortage and many IRS jobs pay $15 an hour, making them less competitive than many. private sector jobs.

The IRS plans to hold job fairs in Kansas City, Missouri; Austin, TX; and Ogden, Utah, to strengthen its treatment centers in those cities. It is also moving 700 employees to these locations to create “surge teams” to process pending returns.

Officials with the Treasury Department, which oversees the IRS, said Thursday the goal was to have the inventory of old tax returns cleared by next year’s tax season. There are no plans, they said, to delay Tax Day this year beyond April 18.

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