July 3, 2022 - Douglas Myser

IRS blame game for destruction of returns. In a somewhat surprising statement, the IRS stated it had destroyed nearly 30 million unprocessed information returns because its "antiquated technology" forced it to dispose of the paper documents and vowed to process all such information returns that it received in 2021 and 2022. The IRS statement was in response to an audit by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, TIGTA, that described the document destruction. In that report TIGTA recommended that the IRS develop a systemwide strategy to increase electronic filing of tax returns and forms. Professional Tax Associations called the document destruction "concerning", considering the IRS's struggles to process returns timely for the past two years, and called upon the service to provide further details. They also urged the IRS to implement specific recommendations for reducing its backlog of unprocessed tax returns and to provide relief to taxpayers. IRS blame game for destruction of returns.

"IRS's management decision to destroy information return documents due to the processing backlog raised numerous questions regarding IRS's decision making and risk assessment process. In its audit report, TIGTA noted that paper filings of the documents, including of many that currently cannot be e-filed, impose higher processing costs for the government and deny taxpayers the benefits of e-filing, including convenience, security, and assured delivery. Processing paper filings also imposes logistical challenges, TIGTA reported, including storage and untimely processing. The IRS's inability to process backlogs of paper filed tax returns that had built up during the Covid pandemic contributed to its decision to destroy about 30 million paper filed information return documents in March of 2021.

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