WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF CHARLES P. RETTIG, IRS COMMISSIONER,
HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE SUBCOMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT ON THE FILING SEASON AND COVID-19 RECOVERY
MARCH 18, 2021
Resuming Operations and Answering Taxpayer Needs
Last summer, the IRS began resuming operations for non-portable services, as more states and local areas also began reopening. As we have continued our work during this unusual period, we have been aware of the continuing taxpayer needs and the backlog of work at our campus and office locations.
One area we have worked hard to improve upon is opening the mail. Because we had to scale back mail-processing functions last spring due to the pandemic, we developed a backlog of unprocessed paper returns and other mail. At one point, the backlog reached more than 20 million pieces. But since last summer, we have been working through this backlog, and we are now current.
While working to reduce the paper backlog, we also have been providing relief for taxpayers who sent us mail that was unopened for a period of time. For example:
• For people who had tax refunds affected by our closure, the IRS has paid interest on refunds. These payments, which can sometimes show up as a second deposit, averaged $18 for nearly 14 million taxpayers.
• For people who made a payment but where there was a delay in when the mail was opened, we credited people on the date the mail was received, not the day we processed the payment.