Hiring, bringing those hired up to speed, and workplace safety for those working onsite are among the top management challenges for the IRS, an inspector general report has said, adding that staffing issues also affect other challenges.
Like previous reports from the IG and others, the assessment stressed that agency staffing fell by some 33,000 over 2010-2020—to a current total of some 82,000—including the loss of more than 13,000 “key enforcement personnel.” The agency’s 2022 budget request seeks an increase of some 8,500 positions but it has difficulty filling its current vacancies, for example achieving only 59 percent of its hiring goal for its submission processing function for the 2021 filing season.
“Although the IRS has several initiatives underway to help address its hiring shortages, these initiatives may not successfully mitigate the hiring challenges as anticipated. We remain concerned about the IRS’s continued challenges in hiring sufficient staff needed to work backlog inventory and process tax returns at the same time,” it said.
Even if the agency is able to step up hiring, “on-boarding, training, and assimilating large numbers of employees will create its own challenges,” it said.
Workplace health and safety also are challenges it said, citing a recent report involving unannounced visits to eight facilities in which auditors found “instances of noncompliance with health and safety guidance at all eight facilities, including guidance pertaining to mask and social distancing requirements.”
Through June, nearly 4,200 IRS employees had tested positive for COVID-19 and of those, nearly half had worked onsite within the prior two weeks, it added.
General management issues it listed include administration of tax law changes and pandemic relief benefits; enhancing security of taxpayer data and protection of resources; improving tax reporting and payment compliance to reduce the tax gap; modernizing operations; improving customer service and the taxpayer experience; addressing emerging threats to tax administration; reducing fraudulent claims and improper payments; increasing international tax compliance; and protecting taxpayer rights.