HOUSTON – We are in the middle of the submission season for 2022. Millions of returns from previous years have still not been processed. The backlog is affecting many people, including a Houston woman who called our KPRC 2 Investigates team for help.
If you owe money to the IRS, they will send notices, add late fees and track you until you pay. But if they owe you the money, you may still be waiting for it. In some cases, you can wait for years.
Laura Patterson says it has been impossible to close her mother’s final tax return.
“They owe us money. I understand that they are shorthanded and understaffed, but from my perspective, a business is a business,” said Laura Patterson.
Patterson is responsible for finalizing her mother Millie’s estate after she passed away in 2019. For a while, Laura was able to track the progress of her tax return on the IRS website.
“It said treatment and you start checking it, you know, six to eight weeks later,” Patterson said.
Then sometime in 2020, a website error changed that.
“And then the system stopped working. We can’t find your tax return. Call us, Patterson said. “Then you start calling. It would take 30 minutes to an hour to contact them.”
Laura called every few months for years and even went to a tax office in person where she was told everything looked good. But in December 2022, the tax authorities told her that a form was missing. She corrected the error and continues to wait.
The IRS is making changes to help more people with their taxes
The tax authorities say they are still working to catch up with massive backlogs caused by COVID and staffing issues. Recently, they have taken big steps to get back on track.
Added a new feature that allows taxpayers to upload multiple documents
New major software updates, including an automated debugging tool to catch common errors
“We have the capacity to go ahead and help people with previous years,” said Joel Flavin, Ripley House Tech Center.
Free tax help in the Houston area
If you need help with your old tax returns, BakerRipley has 24 tax preparation centers around town where you can get free help if you qualify. For more information about BakerRipley’s tax services, visit www.freetaxcenters.org. The tax authorities say that it will be at least June before they can work through the backlog of cases.
“For me and my siblings, we get money back. So we want to finalize it and divide and that would be the end of my dear, precious mother’s estate,” Patterson said.
A spokesperson for the IRS told us they can’t comment on Millie’s case but whether it was a paperwork error. That is the reason for the delay now. They did not answer why it took two years to catch on.
If you have return problems with the IRS, your state’s Taxpayer Service may be able to help.
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