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Internal Revenue Service Said on Monday it would start accepting 2021 personal income do 24 returns – and administration officials are already warning of “disappointing” weather for taxpayers as the agency grapples with a backlog of returns from years past.

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“In many areas, we are unable to deliver the necessary service and enforcement to our taxpayers and the tax system. This is frustrating for taxpayers, for IRS employees, and for me,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rattig said in a statement. “IRS employees want to do more, and we will continue to do everything we can in 2022 with the resources available to us.”

The difficulty this season stems from a massive backlog of paper returns: The IRS typically enters tax-filing season with less than 1 million items remaining, but because of the pandemic and related disruptions, it has to do with paperwork. much more severe accumulation. this year. Treasury officials did not give an exact figure, but suggested it was several times higher than 1 million.

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There are many reasons for the delay. The IRS was grappling with the Herculean task of handing out millions of stimulus checks in 2020 and 2021 as offices closed, all while trying to adapt to major changes to the tax code in the middle of the filing season. The agency is also completely mindless; According to the Congressional Budget Office, it has 20,000 fewer employees than in 2010, and its budget is about $11.4 billion – 20% less than in 2010, when adjusted for inflation.

On top of this, more than 20% of the IRS customer service workforce has been unable to work for health reasons related to the pandemic in the past two years.

Taxpayers will also have to reflect monthly child tax credit payments and incentive checks received in 2021 on their returns, further complicating matters and increasing the chances of errors and delays in return processing.

Treasury Department officials urged taxpayers to file their tax returns as soon as possible, noting that individuals do not need past returns to submit their 2021 returns. Americans are encouraged to file electronically with direct deposit to avoid potential delays and to receive their return within 21 days.

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Tax-filing season will end this year on April 18, rather than the usual April 15 deadline, as Emancipation Day will be celebrated in Washington, D.C. at that time.

Taxpayers can request an extension online by filling out Form 4868 using the IRS.free fileTool. You must submit the form by April 18, or print the form and mail it to your state’s IRS address, making sure it is postmarked by April 18.

This can give filers more time to thoroughly review their returns and take advantage of all tax benefits, such as various deductions and credits, that are available to them to help them reduce their liability.

By pushing back the filing date, you can also avoid a file-to-file penalty — an additional 5% per month on unpaid amounts, which can add up to 25% of the tax payable. If you file for an extension, you have until October 15 before the penalty begins.

Experts caution that filing for an extension does not mean you can delay paying the taxes that are due to the government.

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