IRS To Hire 10,000 Employees To End Pandemic Backlog, 5,000 Positions in 3 Cities

Finishing calculation for tax form on April 15 concept, with calendar in front of an accountant.
AtnoYdur / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Amid one of the most challenging tax seasons, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced it will hire 10,000 new employees and will create a 700-person “surge team” to process new returns, according to a March 10 Treasury Department press release.

See: IRS Issues New Guidelines for the Earned Income Tax Credit — What Do You Need To Know?
Find: Everything You Need To Know About the Child Tax Credit Before Filing Taxes This Year

This year, millions of taxpayers are awaiting the processing of their tax returns and receipt of their refunds. The backlog — unprocessed returns and correspondence sent to the IRS but yet unanswered — has created one of the most challenging tax filing seasons in our nation’s history, the agency said.

“IRS employees have been working tirelessly to process backlogged returns and taxpayer correspondence. To ensure inventory is back to a healthy level for next filing season, we are leaving no stone unturned–taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to ensure as many employees as possible are dedicating time to return processing,” Commissioner Charles P. Rettig said in the release. “This includes bringing on new employees and reassigning current IRS employees to process inventory.”

In a separate announcement, the IRS said it is hiring more than 5,000 positions in its service processing centers located in Austin, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri; and Ogden, Utah. These positions fall under a special hiring condition called direct-hire authority. New hires may expect to begin work within 30-45 days of their job offer. Available positions include temporary, term and permanent jobs. Many are entry-level clerk and tax examiner positions in the Wage and Investment Division. No prior tax experience is required, the IRS said in the announcement. 

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According to the Treasury, the IRS backlogs stem from two key sources. First, the agency has been chronically underfunded for more than a decade, with its budget cut by nearly 20% since 2010. In the first half of 2021, fewer than 15,000 workers handled nearly 200 million calls received, which translates to one person for every 13,000 calls, according to the release. 

Second, the pandemic created a unique set of new operational challenges for the IRS, such as distributing an unprecedented three rounds of Economic Impact Payments, totaling more than $830 billion, to 85% of American households, the agency added. 

Additional efforts the IRS announced include paying overtime to thousands of IRS employees and supporting additional contractor support for inventory. 

The 2022 tax filing season started Jan. 24 and more than 160 million individual tax returns for the 2021 tax year are expected to be filed, with most before the April 18 tax deadline, according to the IRS. 

In addition, it said it will continue to increase taxpayer assistance to reduce delays. This includes communicating directly with taxpayers, providing online help as well as phone and in-person help.

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See: Why You Should Line Up a Tax Preparer Now — and What Paperwork You’ll Need
Find: 30 Ways To Make Tax Season Less Scary

Finally, the IRS said it will develop and deploy updated technology to automate functions. “Ultimately, these approaches are short-term salves for 2022’s tax season but don’t address the much deeper structural problem at the IRS,” the agency said in the release.  

Last month, to help alleviate the backlogs, the IRS announced it was shifting 1,200 employees to help it navigate the next several months and hopefully avoid another huge backlog of unprocessed returns, as GOBankingRates previously reported.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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