IRS offices are opening back up to deal with the mountains of paperwork waiting for them. IRS staff in Utah, Texas, and Kentucky have been reporting back to buildings since the first week of June. More states are set to open up their offices this week, with all offices planning to be open by July 13th per IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.
The IRS needs to deal with all the paperwork that has accumulated over the last three months. IRS Deputy Commissioner for services and enforcement Sunita Lough provided some context as to how much paperwork is waiting for them upon reopening:
“We’ve had 136 million returns filed and we’ve processed 134 million, but there are a number of paper returns that are in the mail that need to be opened and processed,” said Lough. “We estimate that we receive 1 million new pieces of mail each week. Think about all of the weeks that we were closed. Our mailrooms are opening 5 million per week. We’re working really hard to open them. We currently have about 11 million pieces of mail that are unopened, but we are continuing to make progress.”
So if you paper filed this year and have yet to receive your refund, this is probably why. Though the IRS has been able to make concessions for social distancing in setting up secure email servers and pushing back the compliance deadline to July 15th, they are understandably struggling to keep up to the point they are willing to open up again despite the pandemic.
Per Bloomberg Tax, three employees from the Austin office have tested positive for the virus. These employees worked in three separate buildings. Those buildings remain open, but the areas where these employees worked are temporarily closed off for sanitation. The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), responsible for representing the workers of the IRS, has asked for additional safety protocols on the IRS’s side. Some of these include on-site testing and pushing back the compliance deadline once more to October to alleviate pressure on the workers. Union President Tony Reardon states:
“IRS employees shouldn’t have to risk their lives to come to work, which is why NTEU since March has called for an extension of the tax filing season to October 15th.”