IRS slowly reopening offices. As tax season winds down, the Internal Revenue Service is gearing up its operations. The federal tax collector’s plans and procedures have been upended this year, like countless other government agencies and companies with the coronavirus pandemic. The IRS temporarily closed offices in March due to the COVID-19 public health emergency and the filing deadline was pushed back from April 15 to July 15. On top of that, lawmakers tasked the agency with distributing millions of stimulus checks, beginning in April. The IRS started reopening its offices last month after 90% of its facilities were closed at the peak of the pandemic. The IRS has processed 130.5 million returns by July 3, down 9.5% from the same period last year when it had already processed 144.3 million, according to the most recent data. It’s issued 95.2 million refunds so far, which is 9.6% fewer issued refunds than the same point last year. IRS slowly reopening offices. This should move Tax Resolution Services along faster.

As of late June, the IRS was also working its way through 12.3 million pieces of correspondence, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig told senators at the June 30 Finance Committee hearing. Paper tax returns are the top priority in the mountain of documents. “We’re focused on the paper returns because many of those also obviously will have refunds, Rettig said, referring to the tax credit for low and moderate income families. The IRS is processing paper returns in the order it receives them. When it comes to on site office returns, Rettig said the IRS has focused first on staffing up its capacity to issue refunds and handle customer service calls. “We’re trying to ramp up as quickly as we can, he said.

By this week, all of the IRS processing facilities and call centers were scheduled to be open, Rettig said, “understanding that “open” is a relative term for socially distanced working, different schedules, working different shifts, having people spread out.