Why This Tax Filing Season Could Be Ugly

National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins warns the agency will continue to struggle with tight budgets and backlogs. Her advice: File electronically!

Photo of Erin M. Collins, Taxpayer Advocate
(Image credit: Photo by Margo Mortiz)

During last year’s tax-filing season, fewer than 10% of taxpayers who called the IRS were able to get a representative on the phone. Millions of taxpayers still haven’t received their 2020 refunds. Kiplinger’s spoke with Erin Collins, the IRS National Taxpayer Advocate, about what taxpayers can expect during this year’s filing season.

What were the primary reasons for IRS backlogs in 2021, and will the situation improve this year? The last filing season was extremely difficult for many taxpayers, practitioners and the IRS. At the end of 2020, more than 11 million tax returns had not been processed, and that carried over to 2021 season. We’re going to have a similar situation this year. We’ve also had COVID-19 restrictions for employees, and the IRS has had continued reductions in budgets.

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Sandra Block
Senior Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Block joined Kiplinger in June 2012 from USA Today, where she was a reporter and personal finance columnist for more than 15 years. Prior to that, she worked for the Akron Beacon-Journal and Dow Jones Newswires. In 1993, she was a Knight-Bagehot fellow in economics and business journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has a BA in communications from Bethany College in Bethany, W.Va.