Q&A: 2022 tax season
With US Senator Chuck Grassley
Q: What concerns are you hearing from Iowans about tax filing season?
A: Tax season is notoriously a stressful time for households, farms, and businesses to get their financial information, receipts, and paperwork in order. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the federal agency responsible for collecting taxes and implementing the nation’s tax laws. As a guard dog for the American taxpayer, I work tirelessly to hold the IRS accountable to the people it serves. Over the years, I’ve learned not to let go of the watch leash. The political targeting scandal under the Obama administration has given the IRS a self-inflicted black eye. And in the past year alone, further missteps by the IRS have once again undermined public trust. Last summer, a wealth of information on private taxpayers was leaked and published by a media outlet. So far, the Biden administration has failed to root out the source of the massive leak and it puts sensitive data and taxpayer privacy at risk at the height of tax season. Additionally, the Biden administration has pursued silly proposals to require bank reporting information for deposits of $600 on individual Americans and to use facial recognition software to verify taxpayer identities in order to gain access to their accounts online without notice to taxpayers or Congress. These examples of government overkill do not endear the taxpayers to the tax collector or enhance voluntary compliance. My IRS Whistleblower Act has bolstered fairness for law-abiding taxpayers and enabled the IRS to collect over $6 billion from tax evaders. From my work to enact taxpayer protections, improve non-compliance, and modernize IRS operations, I have found that there are always issues to be addressed at the IRS; the pandemic has created even more. The backlog of taxpayer correspondence has reached a critical level. The current tax filing season comes at a time when the IRS is reviewing nearly 24 million unprocessed returns and matches (including 14.5 million tax year 2020 returns) and about 89% of appeals. to IRS customer service remain unanswered. It also comes when many eligible taxpayers are eager to receive unclaimed child tax credit and pandemic refund credit.
At a recent Senate Finance Committee hearing, I informed the National Taxpayer Advocate of another compounding backlog. My office places a high priority on helping Iowans navigate paperwork with federal agencies, including the IRS. I wrote the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act to improve taxpayer protection and improve customer service. The act created a National Taxpayer Advocate with local Taxpayer Advocates in each state. However, over the past year, my office has hit one roadblock after another trying to get answers for Iowans about the status of their tax returns. I also appealed to the Biden administration to get its workforce return to the office to serve taxpayers. And while remote work is demonstrably effective, this bipartisan legislation would require federal agencies to recommend terminating leases for underutilized space to the general services administrator to save taxpayer dollars.
Q: Where can Iowans get tax relief?
A: The IRS’ Voluntary Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs offer free tax preparation to qualified individuals. For more than five decades, the VITA program has provided free tax assistance for those earning $58,000 or less; People with Disabilities; and a limited number of English-speaking taxpayers. The TCE program focuses on retirement-related tax issues for retirees age 60 and over. Taxpayers can check here to know what to bring to their appointment. The majority of TCE sites are operated by the AARP Foundation Tax Assistance Program. To find the location that’s best for you, use the AARP Site Locator or call (888) 227-7669. For those eligible for free tax preparation services on more general tax matters, use the VITA locator tool to find the nearest location, typically found at community centers, schools, libraries, or shopping malls. . For Iowans looking for an opportunity to volunteer in one of these programs, you can learn more here. As a volunteer, you will be trained (online and in person) to help serve neighbors in your local community. Schedules are flexible and the level of commitment is up to you. Even if you are not a tax professional, you can receive the necessary training or work in a position that does not require certification.