Citing the strain and added financial challenges and questions of the pandemic, one of the state's veteran Congressmen is leading a call for a tax filing extension this year.

As of the second week of March, only 27% of phone calls to the IRS were being answered, which means that roughly three out of every four taxpayers trying to reach the IRS are unable to get help, according to a news release from U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass.

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The American Institute of CPAs issued its own request to the IRS commissioner on March 3, urging an extension of the tax filing deadline until June 15.

A week earlier, the National Association of Tax Professionals sent a similar request to the IRS commissioner, urging consideration of a filing extension to the 2021 tax season.

NATP pointed to a “lack of guidance on a number of tax issues” amid the ongoing pandemic, on behalf of its 23,000 tax preparer members and the more than 10 million taxpayer clients they serve.

The tax season for 2020 return got underway on Feb. 12, and by month's end, the number of returns filed was down by nearly 25% from the same time last year. The number of returns processed by the IRS also was down by 31%.

Thanks to a delayed start of the 2020 filing season, “many IRS forms are still not available for electronic filing which has also caused a state delay,” in releasing tax forms, according to the AICPA.

A second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans and other pandemic relief programs and delays have added to the challenges of filing within a two-month span by the April 15 deadline, the CPA associations both have said.

“We stand in the midst of the most important tax filing season in recent memory, and taxpayers cannot get the help they need from the IRS,” Pascrell and Neal said in their joint statement.

The Democratic congressmen also pointed to pandemic relief still pending, which would impact returns being filed.

"Once it is signed into law, the American Rescue Plan will change the tax laws applicable to unemployment benefits received in 2020 and reported on returns filed during this filing season. Taxpayers need more time to file accurate returns and get their questions answered by the IRS."

Last year, the tax filing season was extended by three months to July 15, 2020.

Under the current timeline, taxpayers can apply by April 15 for an extension of time to file, which would allow another six months, until Oct. 15.

However, at least 80% of any owed taxes still would be due by April 15, to avoid a late filing penalty.

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