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Fixing the IRS: Troubled Agency’s Needs Run Deeper Than Funding

April 18, 2022, 8:50 AMUpdated: April 22, 2022, 8:50 AM

The IRS is struggling. The last three filing seasons were marred by a backlog of unprocessed paper returns, confusing tax code changes, and many times more phone calls to IRS help lines than the agency can handle.

The Biden administration touts a sustained funding increase as a silver bullet to the agency’s problems.

“Frankly, the IRS just does not have the resources that it needs today to serve the American people the way they should be served,” said Natasha Sarin, deputy assistant secretary for economic policy at the Treasury Department.

More resources would help, but with or without a budget boost, the agency needs to confront the technology, workforce, and public perception problems at the root of its customer service struggles.

Catch up on the series below:

In her column, Kelly Phillips Erb (@taxgirl) highlighted the impact of IRS processing delays, from refunds to student loans.

In the Talking Tax podcast, former IRS Commissioner John Koskinen and Carlos Lopez, founder of the Latino Tax Professionals Association, talked about how the agency can get on the right track.

We also asked some of the tax world’s heaviest hitters to weigh in with their unfiltered opinions about how to fix the agency:

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To contact the reporters on this story: David Hood at; Naomi Jagoda at; Jasmine Ye Han in Washington at;

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Patrick Ambrosio at; Bernie Kohn at