The IRS announced on Monday that it will begin accepting personal income tax returns for 2021 on Jan. 24.T he administration has already warned that this will be a "frustrating" period for taxpayers struggling to maintain last year's returns.
"In many areas, we are unable to provide adequate and necessary services and implementation facilities to taxpayers and the tax system. This is disappointing for taxpayers, tax agency officials and me," said IRS Chief Charles P. Rettig. The seasonal difficulties are due to the large number of paper returns.
The IRS usually enters tax filing season with fewer than 1 million outstanding issues, but because of the pandemic and related disruptions, it has many more documents. this year. Treasury officials did not give an exact figure, but speculated that it was several times more than 1 million. There are several reasons for the delay. The IRS has struggled with office closures as well as the Herculean task of delivering millions of incentive checks in 2020 and 2021 while trying to adapt major changes to the tax code in the middle of filing season.
The agency is also severely understaffed; according to the Congressional Budget Office, it has 20,000 fewer employees than in 2010, and its budget is about $11.4 billion, down 20 percent from inflation-adjusted 2010. In addition, more than 20 percent of IRS customer service employees have been unable to work for pandemic-related health reasons for the past two years.
Taxpayers will also have to reflect monthly child tax credit payments and stimulus checks they received in 2021 on their returns, further complicating matters and increasing the likelihood of errors and delays in processing returns.
Treasury Department officials urged taxpayers to file their tax returns as soon as possible, noting that individuals do not need previous returns to file their 2021 returns. Americans are encouraged to file electronically with direct deposit to avoid possible delays and receive their returns within 21 days. This year's tax filing season will end for most people on April 18, not the usual April 15, because that's when Washington, D.C., will celebrate Emancipation Day.
Taxpayers can request an extension online by filling out Form 4868 using the IRS Free File tool.