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August 18, 2022

Collins, King Join Bipartisan, Bicameral Push for IRS to Clear Backlogs, Resolve Customer Service Issues

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King joined a bipartisan, bicameral group of 93 Members of Congress in sending a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig to reiterate their push for the IRS to resolve customer services issues.  Specially, the letter urges the agency to eliminate the ongoing, unprecedented processing delays, improve customer service, extend the suspension of automated notices and collections, and continue making maximum use of overtime and surge teams.

“Since last year, numerous Members of Congress in the House and Senate have sent several letters regarding customer service issues, processing delays, and the outstanding backlog of returns,” wrote the bicameral group of lawmakers. “Yet, we are writing again to urge the IRS to extend the suspension of automated collections, continue the pause on automated notices, and keep its surge teams in place until hiring challenges and processing backlogs are adequately addressed.”

In a Senate Finance Committee Hearing last April, IRS Commissioner Rettig estimated that the agency would return to a “healthy state” by the end of 2022 and expected to hire 10,000 customer service representatives between this year and next year. Yet, according to the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA), the paper return backlog has actually increased by 1.3 million and the agency has only been able to meet 12 percent of its hiring goals. Additionally, refunds are currently taking six months or longer on average compared to previous historical processing times of four to six weeks and the agency has left four out of five phone calls it receives unanswered.

The lawmakers added, “[W]e believe that the IRS must take additional steps to improve customer service issues, decrease processing delays, and work-down the backlog of paper returns and correspondence by continuing the maximum use of overtime and surge teams, as well as the continued suspension of automated notices and collections—which have been critical in reducing pandemic-related tax return and correspondence backlogs.”

In addition to Senators Collins and King, the letter was also signed in the Senate by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). 

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