As reported by the leader of the union that represents the vast majority of the IRS workforce, the Internal Revenue Service plans to hire 10,000 new full-time employees who will play a direct role in assisting the agency in reducing its massive backlog of millions of unprocessed tax returns and other mail from individual and business taxpayers.
In a statement, the National Treasury Employees Union said it had received notification that the Internal Revenue Service had been granted Direct Hire Authority for approximately 10,000 entry-level positions in submission processing and accounts management.
“This is presumably in response to concerns that the agency’s hiring process is difficult and slow,” said Tony Reardon, the union’s national president.
Following a story by The Washington Post, it was announced that the hiring process would take place until December 31, 2023.
A recent initiative to hire 5,000 new IRS staff has so far failed, with fewer than 200 new employees joining the agency.
The current plan “seems like an extension of that strategy and its logic,” according to Chad Hooper, president of the Professional Managers Association, a non-union organization that represents non-unionized employees.
However, he stated that he had little detailed understanding of the new strategy and expressed skepticism about how readily it could be implemented in light of the recent hiring failure.
Mr. Hooper stated that it is “unclear” where the Internal Revenue Service believes these future employees are located.
Nonetheless, a significant percentage of the anticipated employee increase is earmarked for the purpose of eliminating the vast backlog of paperwork that has accumulated since last year.
The paper backlog comprises at least 10 million individual tax filings and 4 million corporate tax forms, all of which have been preventing taxpayers from receiving refunds and benefits they had been expecting since last year.
In addition, there are around 8 million additional pieces of mail in a category that contains taxpayer responses to automated IRS letters that they have received, many of which have been sent in error since they were first sent.
Deputy Commissioner Reardon stated that “it is apparent that understaffing in these departments contributes to a delay in the processing of tax returns and taxpayer correspondence.”
Starting this month, the IRS began reassigning 1,200 employees from their current positions to deal with the backlog.
This will continue through September, but additional personnel will be required if the agency is to meet its goal of reducing the backlog to a manageable level by the end of the year. In normal times, it’s less than a million people who are affected.
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IRS officials have not yet responded to inquiries about the hiring intentions or the specific responsibilities that the new workers could potentially fill, despite the fact that they would constitute the largest significant increase in personnel at the agency in decades.
According to the IRS’s website, the agency has a workforce of around 80,000 people.
The Internal Revenue Service had approximately 94,700 employees in 2010 and 2011, but by 2020, the number of employees had decreased to less than 75,800.
Retirement and attrition, as well as decreased or flat appropriations from Congress, have contributed to a reduction in spending on the agency of 20 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars during the past decade.
IRS supporters are urging lawmakers to approve additional funds for the IRS as part of the ongoing yearly appropriations process, which would allow the agency to bulk up its workforce, even more, improve its aging information technology infrastructure, and do other things.
In addition, President Joe Biden and several Democrats on Capitol Hill are advocating for an additional $80 billion over a decade for the Internal Revenue Service, with the majority of the funds going toward improved enforcement, though Republicans have so far blocked that idea.