It’s everyone’s least favorite time of year: tax season. Have you been wondering about or asking your tax professional these questions?
- Where’s my refund?
- Why haven’t my payments been cashed?
- Why am I getting these notices when I already filed that return?
- Why are the wait times over an hour to get through to a live IRS representative?
Whether you’ve tried unsuccessfully to reach the IRS yourself or have read about others having challenges, you are not alone in asking these questions.
Taxpayers and tax professionals are facing the most challenging tax filing season ever. For many reasons—cutbacks, limited staffing, the pandemic, and years of IRS workforce reductions—the IRS has a current backlog of over 10 million unprocessed returns.
As of the date of this article, the IRS has over 3 million pieces of unanswered taxpayer correspondence, and is just now working on correspondence from June 2021. It is no surprise that the IRS needs significantly more resources to tackle under reporters, tax cheats, non-filers and improving customer service.
According to a recent report from the National Taxpayer Advocate, the IRS answered only 11% of all calls it received in 2021, and the average wait times exceeded 1 hour.
So, what do you do about this? Here are some actions steps we recommended.
- Send your tax documents to your tax professional early. Filing later in the tax season will likely mean longer processing times.
- E-file your returns. Paper returns have a much longer processing time.
- Consider providing a power of attorney to your tax professional so they may get copies of notices and be proactive in communicating with the IRS.
- Have realistic expectations. Receiving a refund in 60- 90 days as usual just won’t happen this year. Current processing times are estimated at around 20 weeks.
- Wait 6 weeks to follow up. Expect at least 6 weeks for the IRS to process submitted correspondence. Only follow up with the IRS after that time frame.
- If you do need to call the IRS, call early or late. Usually, lines are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., so aim to call at the beginning or end of that range. Don’t call at lunchtime when everyone else is calling, or you may have a very long wait.
- Avoid calling on Monday or Friday. These two days are the highest volume days with the most limited staff. You’ll surely have the longest wait times as well.
Above all else, be patient this tax season. Get prepared to file earlier than usual if possible, and ensure your tax professional has plenty of time to work on your tax records. Contact us if we can help.