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IRS Commissioner Rettig: Three Million Pieces of Mail, One Million Returns Remain Unprocessed


Jessica L. Jeane, J.D.
Director of Public Policy & Communications
November 20, 2020

Currently, the IRS has approximately three million pieces of mail and one million returns that remain unprocessed, IRS Commissioner Charles “Chuck” Rettig said. The IRS mail backlog is down from where it sat at over five million last month.

Testifying before the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee on November 20, Rettig told lawmakers that the IRS is “doing everything we can to reduce this [mail] backlog.” To that end, Rettig also detailed relief being provided for taxpayers who have sent the IRS mail that remained unopened for a certain period of time.

NSA staff attended the hearing on behalf of NSA members.

“For people who had tax refunds affected by our closure, the IRS is paying interest on refunds. These payments, which can sometimes show up as a second deposit, average $18 for nearly 14 million taxpayers,” Rettig testified. “We are also crediting people in instances where there is unopened mail and they are making a payment. We credit people on the date the mail was received, not the day we process the payment.”


Rettig’s testimony comes on the heels of a recent uproar in the tax and accounting community after the IRS sent a slew of Notices of Intent to Levy, CP504B, to many taxpayers who assert that the IRS just simply has not processed their payments or correspondence. Additionally, practitioners are voicing frustration over not being able to get through to the IRS on the Practitioner Priority Service (PPS) line to rectify the situation.

NSA’s CEO John Rice voiced these member concerns while speaking directly with the IRS this week. An IRS official acknowledged that the mail backlog remains an issue but assured NSA that it is making significant progress.

“We have done all that we can really do,” Rettig told lawmakers during the hearing, adding that the IRS and its employees have gone through the same pandemic hardships as everyone else. “On behalf of the Internal Revenue Service and every employee, for literally every American, we appreciate the patience and understanding,” Rettig said.  

2021 Tax Filing Season

Looking ahead, Rettig stated that the IRS is expected to open the 2020 tax filing season on time in January and will “determine an opening date in due course,” adding that the IRS has been working toward preparing for the 2021 tax filing season for months.

Additionally, Rettig stated that the IRS wants to emphasize how important it is, now more than ever, for taxpayers and practitioners to utilize e-filing and online virtual services.

    The core mission of the National Society of Accountants is to help tax and accounting professionals become more successful.

NSA presents this information in the interest of its members for information purposes only and is not intended to provide, nor should it be relied upon, as legal, tax, or accounting advice.

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