The Treasury Department has issued a warning that annual tax refunds and some other services may be delayed this year due to "enormous challenges," including the ongoing pandemic and budget cuts at the IRS that have led to fewer staffers.
During a call with reporters on Monday, agency officials said they are anticipating a "frustrating season" for U.S. taxpayers, according to an account in The Washington Post.
Partly responsible for the delays is the massive amount of extra work the Internal Revenue Service has been required to take on due to several rounds of federal stimulus packages.
According to the Post, in December of 2021, the IRS still had 6 million unprocessed individual returns – typically, at that point in the year, the service has about 1 million unprocessed returns.
The watchdog group the National Taxpayer Advocate released a report over the summer showing the IRS ended its last filing season with more than 35 million individual and business tax returns that had still not been processed – a figure roughly four times the number from the year prior to the pandemic.
This year, the IRS will begin accepting individual income-tax returns January 24. Individuals are being encouraged to file early to avoid processing delays.
IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said that while planning for this filing season is "a massive undertaking," IRS teams have been "working non-stop" to prepare.