IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig recently made a plea for help. He said that his agency has taken measures to battle the overwhelming effects of the pandemic – new responsibilities and a rush of tax returns. But with a shrinking budget and staffing levels the same as they were five decades ago, the IRS is facing a backlog of millions of previous years’ tax returns. Not to mention, there will be another influx of 2021 returns submitted this month.

For US taxpayers, the long delays can threaten their financial security. Some individuals depend on their annual returns to afford things like rent, gas, and groceries. But the backlog is affecting more than just the living taxpayers. It’s also impacting families and executors who are unable to close their loved one’s estate.

Filing a tax return is one of the last steps in the probate process. But if the IRS doesn’t complete the paperwork and cut the last check, the executors have to keep the bank accounts open. Indefinitely. They cannot close the estate or distribute assets and funds as the deceased intended.

For loved ones waiting on the IRS, there can be a financial toll to the delays. The family or executor may have to keep the decedent’s bank accounts open, which comes with monthly fees. Family members who were relying on an inheritance will have to wait until the IRS finalizes the paperwork and cuts that final check.

There’s also a significant emotional toll. Family members who are waiting to close their loved one’s estate are not able to move on from the death. There is no emotional closure. As long as they are waiting on the IRS, they’re stuck with the reminders that their loved one is gone and also with the weight of completing the probate process. It’s a stressful and frustrating position to be in.

Those who are dealing with this problem have attempted to reach out to the IRS directly. They’ll try to call the agency, only to receive a message that the IRS is experiencing a high call volume and to try again later. According to US Treasury officials, the IRS has approximately one person for every 16,000 calls that the agency receives. Others may receive written communication from the IRS, acknowledging that they’ve received the return. Or they’ll see a notification on the IRS website that the agency needs more information in order to complete the tax return. But when the family members attempt to follow up the IRS communication with a phone call, they deal with the same busy signals and “high call volume” automated messages.

Have Questions? Contact Brian M. Douglas & Associates

While taxpayers and estates must wait for the IRS to work their way through the backlog of returns, one way to ensure that your paperwork will be processed is to submit updated and correct documentation. At Brian M. Douglas & Associates, our team of experienced probate attorneys can walk you through the probate process and make sure your tax records are accurate and timely. If you have a question about the probate process or would like to schedule a consultation, please do not hesitate to reach out. We’re always happy to help. You can reach us by phone at (770) 933-9009 or via our online contact page.