Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr., the Chairman of the Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee, recently sent a letter to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Charles Rettig requesting details on how the agency intends to utilize the $80 billion dollars earmarked to the agency, along with the hiring of roughly 87,000 new IRS employees.
The bill, titled the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022, was signed into law by President Joe Biden on Aug. 16. Pascrell and his Democratic colleagues in Congress support the additional funding for the IRS, citing a need for wealthy taxpayers to pay their fair share, along with fixing tax loopholes and improving overall services.
“I am thrilled that Congress has passed, and the President has signed, the IRA into law. The IRA will provide much needed and well-overdue funding for the IRS to improve operations and crack down on rich tax cheats,” wrote Pascrell.
“As you know, I have made fairness and equity in our federal tax system a top priority. The failure to fund and prioritize robust tax enforcement has allowed wealthy individuals and large corporations to avoid paying their fair share,” he said. “The American people must have faith that our tax system is administered lawfully, competently, and fairly. Inadequate resources and decades of neglect have badly harmed public confidence in the IRS.”
Pascrell requated from the tax collection agency to provide a breakdown of its plan to use the additional funding by year and by activity so that the Congress “can be assured that the resources in this bill are being directed toward restoring fairness, equity, and taxpayer services.”
However, Pascrell isn’t alone in pushing the IRS to move forward in resolving and improving overall customer service.
A group of 89 bipartisan lawmakers led by members of the Senate Finance Committee that oversees the IRS, including U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), alongside U.S. Representatives Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), contacted the IRS urging them in a letter to use a portion of the funds to improve their outdated processing system, along with upgrading their overall customer service and also extending the suspension of automated notices and collections.
“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 bipartisan group of lawmakers to Rettig. “Yet, we are writing again to urge the IRS to extend the suspension of automated collections, continue the pause on automated notices, keep its surge teams in place until hiring challenges and processing backlogs are adequately addressed.”
During a Senate Finance Committee Hearing last April, Rettig assured lawmakers that by the end of 2022, the agency would once again be in a “healthy state” and ready to hire about 10,000 new IRS employees, committed towards providing quality customer service.
However, according to the watchdog group the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA), the IRS has actually increased its backlog of paper returns by 1.3 million with only 12% of the agencies hiring goals currently being met.
The bipartisan group of lawmakers concluded within their letter, “We 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.”
Malinowski Cites District Recovery
Despite the huge backlog at the IRS, one New Jersey lawmaker actually recovered over $1.3 million dollars in overdue tax refunds for his constituents. Rep. Tom Malinowski, representing the 7th District, recovered the funds after concerned residents within his distract contacted his office for assistance.
“My team has been relentless in helping constituents get the delayed refunds they’re owed, and we’ll continue to do that,” said Malinowski. “Meanwhile, Congress has finally acted to reverse the budget cuts that caused this crisis in IRS customer service, and to give the IRS the resources it once had to ensure that wealthy tax cheats actually pay what they owe.”
According to a recent study, taxpayers for the last several years have expressed outrage and frustration with the IRS’ substandard customer service. As of June, only 10% of calls to the agency have actually been answered, with over 20 million tax returns still waiting to be processed.