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IRS is shifting 1,200 employees from other duties to whittle down a tax return backlog

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is shifting 1,200 employees from other duties to help address potential processing delays for 2021 tax refunds and a backlog of 2020 returns as the agency struggles with a number of pandemic-related challenges.

An IRS spokesperson told The Hill on Thursday that the agency is “moving 1,200 employees internally from other positions to help address the inventory.” The spokesperson noted that those staff members have experience in the area, and will remain in their new positions through September.

“The IRS continues to explore multiple options to help taxpayers, including those with tax returns awaiting processing,” the spokesperson added.

The agency’s announcement came after IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig warned Americans last week that they could experience delays in receiving their 2021 tax refunds.

During a call with reporters, Rettig urged Americans to start preparing their taxes in advance of the deadlines later this year, and to create a direct deposit system with the IRS and file their returns electronically to dodge delays.

The commissioner said the possibility for delays is fueled by coronavirus-associated staffing problems, the implementation of a number of stimulus programs and insufficient congressional funding. He also said outdated technology is creating a larger workload.

Last year, the IRS oversaw the allocation of the third round of stimulus checks, an expanded tax credit and an earned tax credit, all of which came from President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package signed in March. The agency is also grappling with a backlog of unprocessed tax returns from 2020.

The IRS started accepting 2021 tax returns on Jan. 24. The filing deadline for most Americans is April 18, though taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts have until April 19 because those states observe Patriot’s Day, which falls on April 18.

Taxpayers who have asked for an extension do not have to file until Oct. 17.

Tags Internal Revenue Service IRS Joe Biden tax refunds

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