HOUSTON – We are right in the middle of tax filing season for 2022. Still, millions of returns from previous years are still not processed. The backlog is impacting a lot of people, including one 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 down until you pay up. But if they owe you the money, you may still be waiting for it. In some cases, you could be waiting for years.
Laura Patterson says it has been impossible to close out her mother’s final tax return.
“They owe us money. I understand they’re shorthanded and understaffed but in my perspective, a business is a business,” said Laura Patterson.
Patterson is in charge of finalizing her mom Millie’s estate after she passed away in 2019. For a while, Laura could track the progress of the tax return on the IRS website.
“It said processing and you start checking that, you know, six to eight weeks later,” said Patterson.
Then sometime in 2020, a glitch on the site changed that.
“And then the system wasn’t working anymore. We cannot find your tax returns. Give us a call,” said Patterson. “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 an IRS office in person where she was told everything looked fine. But in December of 2022, the IRS told her there was a missing form. She corrected the mistake and continues to wait.
IRS makes changes to help more people with taxes
The IRS says it is still working to catch up from massive backlogs caused by COVID and staffing issues. Recently, they’ve taken major steps to get back on track.
- Added a new feature that allows taxpayers to upload more documents
- New major software updates, including an automated error correction tool to catch common mistakes
“We do have the capacity to go ahead and help people with the prior years,” said Joel Flavin, Ripley House Tech Center.
Free tax help in the Houston area
If you need help with those old tax returns, BakerRipley has 24 tax prep centers around town where you can get free help if you qualify. For more information on BakerRipley’s tax services, visit www.freetaxcenters.org. The IRS says it will be at least June before they can work through backlogged cases.
“For me and my siblings, we’re due money back. So, we would like to finalize that and divvied up and that would be the end of my dear precious mom’s estate,” said Patterson.
An IRS spokesperson told us they can’t comment on Millie’s case but if there was a paperwork mistake. That is the reason for the delay now. They didn’t answer why that took two years to catch.
If you are having return issues with the IRS, the government’s taxpayer advocate service may be able to help.
Do you have a tax question?
We are working to get answers to your tax questions. Text “Ask Amy” to 1-866-996-5772 along with your question. You can also email AskAmy@kprc.com