It’s late April. More than 13 months into the pandemic. Almost 40% of Americans have received at least one Covid vaccine. So, you’d think IRS processing times – which slowed to a virtual crawl when the pandemic hit – would be starting to improve, right? Guess again.

Actually, readers of this blog and my Newsletter, probably already knew better than to think that a broad improvement in economic conditions necessarily means the IRS is also starting to return to normal. After all, I like to chronicle the IRS’ slow processing times, bizarre decisions and general “Tax Troll” attitude.

I’m here to report that the IRS remains consistent. The agency’s processing times continue to be absurdly slow, due to the pandemic. Perhaps that’s because most IRS personnel continue to work from home? Where they cannot access the highly-classified IRS databases they need access to in order to answer almost all inquiries? I don’t know what all explains why the IRS is still slow as syrup, but I certainly know that IRS employees are not close to being on top of their workloads. Here’s four recent examples.

First, I am trying to get a taxpayer id number for an Australian client. That request goes to a special group in Austin, Texas. For the last three weeks, I have been unable to reach anyone at that group: the answering machine says to call back later because they have too many calls.

Second, I have waited more than three months for several IRS collection officers to get back to me since I’ve submitted documentation to start installment agreements for many clients.

Third, over at the Tax Court, not a part of the IRS, tax court petitions (suing the IRS) sit in a warehouse for months before being opened and processed by work-at-home clerks. One client’s petition arrived at the court on December 9 (we know because we used certified mail), but the Tax court did not put the petition on its docket until February 23.

Fourth, we all know about spending huge wait times to talk to the IRS. I pay a special service – Call EnQ – to get to the front of the line (it waits for me). Before Covid, I never waited longer than three minutes to speak to an IRS officer when using Call EnQ. In the last three months, they’ve refunded my service fee several times because the wait time, even with their waiting on behalf of paying customers, was unacceptably long.

Let’s hope these absurd processing times don’t become the IRS’s new normal.

April 26, 2021

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