Under-staffing and facility closings related to the pandemic have hampered the IRS performance during the current tax-filing season but other problems as simple as failed equipment also have proved to be a hindrance, an IG report has said.
It said that as of March 5, the IRS had received some 56 million tax returns, 97 percent of them filed electronically, and had issued more than 36 million refunds. However, the agency “continues to face challenges in hiring sufficient staff” with for example more than 4,400 submission processing function positions unfilled or in which employees are not working for various reasons as of early March.
“In addition, continued closures related to COVID-19 and limited service from the Federal Records Center impact tax record storage and retrieval,” the report said. At that time there were with more than 31,000 boxes with approximately 4.7 million documents that needed to be refiled or retired to a Federal Records Center location.
During site visits to two processing centers, management estimated that 42 percent of 164 devices used by the submission processing functions are unusable and others are broken but still functioning. “IRS employees stated that the only reason they could not use many of these devices is because they are out of ink or because the waste cartridge container is full,” it said.
The report added: “The lack of working printers and copiers affects many different areas of the IRS but has an especially significant effect on the return and income verification services functions” where employees must make copies of tax returns to fulfill requests for tax documents from taxpayers and other institutions. At one center, though, only three of the 10 devices were working.
Because the report was interim in nature, it made no formal recommendations.