COBB COUNTY, Ga — A Cobb County woman has been waiting 32 weeks for the IRS to process her amended 2020 tax return. She is one of millions of Americans stuck in a backlog of unprocessed returns nationwide.
“It’s just a vicious cycle, a vicious loop with no resolution,” Tiffany Setzer said.
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The Setzers keep getting bills from the IRS. And interest keeps getting added to the total. The Cobb family’s $2000 2020 bill is now up to $3000. But last September, the Setzers filed an amended return. They should now be due $2000 instead of owing money.
“So, there’s a difference of about $4,000 that is out there,” Setzer said.
But it’s been 32 weeks since she filed the amended return and while bills keep coming, there’s no refund and no way to reach anyone at the IRS about it.
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“It says we are not able to take your call at this time please try back later. I’ve been trying days after days weeks after weeks and now we’re at 32 weeks,” Setzer said.
The IRS acknowledges it has a problem with a backlog of primarily paper returns and a staffing shortage for customer service.
The most updated data from IRS show there are currently 9.8 million unprocessed individual returns.
Of those, 2 million require error correction or special handling.
Seven million are paper returns.
“It’s an absolute must that we, my terminology is pretty blunt, crush these inventories,” IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig told Congress in May.
The IRS points to funding problems; its budget is down 15% over the past decade.
In a congressional hearing last month, Rettig testified IRS diverted customer service staff to processing backlogged returns.
“We took people off the phones, which did not help level of service the ability to have phone calls answered then we added surge teams,” Rettig said.
Rettig pledged to clear the backlog by the end of the year. He also is asking Congress for more money for customer service staff.
“Part of the funding request is to fully staff our taxpayer assistance centers. To put 3 people in each of 380 taxpayer assistance centers would help a lot of these problems,” he said.
Setzer says it has been frustrating waiting. She was first told by the IRS online tool it would take 16 weeks to process her return. Then it was extended to 20 weeks. It is now 32 weeks and counting.
“I know I can’t be the only one. There have to be thousands of people waiting or trying to get through the IRS and there is zero path to communicate,” Setzer said.
IRS says the best way to avoid being stuck in the return backlog is to file electronically, not by paper.
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