Smart Tax Planning

Tax return backlog will ‘absolutely’ clear by end of 2022, says IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig

Key Points
  • IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig told House lawmakers that he expects the backlog of tens of millions of tax returns to clear by the end of 2022.
  • The promise comes after the agency unveiled plans to hire 10,000 workers to tackle the pileup, with 5,000 new employees in the coming months.
  • President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed off on $12.6 billion for the agency’s 2022 budget, 6% higher than 2021, as part of the omnibus spending package.
IRS commissioner Charles Rettig testifies during the Senate Finance Committee hearing on June 8, 2021.
Tom Williams | Pool | Reuters

The IRS is still digging through tens of millions of unprocessed tax returns with roughly four weeks until the 2021 filing deadline. But Commissioner Charles Rettig expects the backlog to clear by year-end.

The pileup, created by years of budget cuts, understaffing, pandemic-related office closures and added duties, should "absolutely" resolve before December, Rettig said Thursday, appearing before the House Ways and Means Committee. 

"As of today, barring any unforeseen circumstances, if the world stays as it is today, we will be what we call 'healthy' by the end of calendar year 2022, and enter the 2023 filing season with normal inventories," he said.  

Rettig's promise to House lawmakers comes about a week after the agency unveiled plans to hire 10,000 workers to tackle the backlog, with 5,000 new employees in the coming months.

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President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed off on $12.6 billion for the agency's 2022 budget, 6% higher than 2021, as part of the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending package.

"A successful, fully functioning IRS is important to the continued success of the country," Rettig said during his prepared testimony, reiterating the shortfalls in many parts of the agency.