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Rep. Boebert Calls for IRS to Stop Harassing Law-Abiding Taxpayers

February 26, 2021

 

Washington, DC - Today, U.S. Congresswoman Lauren Boebert (CO-03) stood up for taxpayers by demanding that the IRS halt its unjust harassment of law-abiding Americans who filed their taxes on time:

Congresswoman Lauren Boebert (CO-03) stated: “My office has received calls from hard-working Americans who have been receiving notices from the IRS threatening seizure of their property, garnishment of wages, and federal liens. These notices were not sent because taxpayers were late on payments, but rather, because of the IRS’ egregious dereliction of duty in not processing their incoming mail and tax returns effectively. While Americans are working hard trying to support their families, IRS employees have been on permanent vacation. They have not shown up to work for the past year because of pandemic policies, and they are apparently inept at working from home. These unacceptable failures have caused panic for many of my constituents, and I will not stand for it. I will continue to fight against this loathsome bureaucracy, and I will not let my District be harassed.”

Background:

U.S. Congresswoman Lauren Boebert (CO-03) sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig demanding an explanation for the threatening IRS letters sent to law-abiding taxpayers in her District who filed their 2019 tax returns on time.

These letters were mistakenly sent since the IRS has had a reported mail processing backlog of nearly 12 million letters that were sitting in trucks while the agency has been on lock down. The failure of the IRS to come up with a workable telework plan is unacceptable, and now taxpayers are paying the price by undergoing traumatic fear, hours of wait times calling backed-up help lines, and trying to navigate an unworkable bureaucracy.

Congresswoman Boebert called on the IRS to fix its broken systems and suspend issuing notices of intent to seize property until the mail backlog is responsibly dealt with and law-abiding taxpayers are protected from receiving letters threatening garnishment of wages, federal liens, and property seizure.

The full text of the letter is available HERE and below.

 

February 25, 2021



The Honorable Charles P. Rettig

Commissioner

Internal Revenue Service

1111 Constitution Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C. 20224


Dear Commissioner Rettig:

We write to raise concerns about intimidating collection notices the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is erroneously sending to taxpayers who filed their 2019 tax returns on time.

For months, the IRS has reported a massive backlog of correspondence that currently includes nearly 7 million pieces of unopened mail. Despite this staggering inventory, the IRS continues to send threatening bills to taxpayers whose tax returns and payments are already in their possession but have not been processed. 

Specifically, taxpayers that mailed their returns to the IRS months ago have received notices of intent to seize their property if “outstanding balances” are not paid within 30 days. Threats for “nonpayment” include the forfeiture of state tax refunds or social security benefits, the issuance of federal liens on their property, the denial or revocation of passports, the garnishment of wages, the confiscation of money from bank accounts, as well as the seizure and sale of homes, vehicles and other personal property.

These unwarranted delinquency notices that stem from the agency’s failure to process its own mail have imposed burdensome requirements on hard-working taxpayers who are fearful that the federal government is going to confiscate their private property. Proactive citizens have absorbed new financial costs and wasted precious hours of their day attempting to correct these errors and navigate government bureaucracy. Unfortunately, live phone support and other important agency functions are still delayed or unavailable. These gaps in service have further complicated these matters and caused additional frustrations.

The current system is broken. The IRS must take immediate action to address the mail backlog, reduce processing times and fix service delays so all 2019 tax returns can be processed immediately and so these same issues do not occur during the upcoming tax season.

The IRS should also consider suspending notices of intent to seize property until the agency’s backlog has been eliminated and all taxpayer accounts have been updated with this correspondence.

These issues lead to the following questions:

  • How many delinquency notices were erroneously sent to taxpayers that had already submitted their 2019 tax returns?
  • What specific measures has the IRS taken to address its mail backlog?
  • What is the largest total amount of unopened mail contained in the IRS inventory at any point since March 2020?
  • What is the current backlog at the time of responding to this letter and when does the agency project this backlog will be eliminated?
  • Media reports indicate that the IRS sent nearly 60,000 employees home to telework and more than 500 physical IRS offices were shut down. Are these numbers accurate?
  • What are the main reasons IRS employees are unable to perform their normal duties when teleworking?
  • How many employees have returned from telework and what is the plan for getting other employees back in the office?
  • Were there a significant number of employees that retired or are no longer working for the agency that contributed to the backlog accumulating, or is the backlog primarily a result of the agency’s flawed telework plan?
  • If a majority of IRS employees are teleworking from home, why is the agency still unable to provide adequate live phone support?
  • If mail is being opened immediately as claimed on your website and checks are being cashed, why are these payments not also being posted to taxpayer accounts in a timely manner?
  • Reports indicate that at one point the IRS had nearly 12 million pieces of unopened mail in its inventory and that “tax returns and letters from taxpayers sat unopened in trucks in post office parking lots for months while IRS offices were closed down.” Are these reports accurate and if so why did these things occur?
  • Has the IRS considered suspending notices of intent to seize property until the agency’s backlog has been eliminated and all taxpayer accounts have been updated with this correspondence?

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to your prompt response to these questions.

Sincerely,

Lauren Boebert

Member of Congress

Andy Biggs

Member of Congress

Richard Hudson

Member of Congress

Doug Lamborn

Member of Congress

Louie Gohmert

Member of Congress

Ken Buck

Member of Congress