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IRS plans to end tax backlog by shifting jobs, hiring 10,000 new staff

IRS hiring Austin 2022_CCI_000016
The IRS regularly sends out postcards, like this one that arrived in my snail mail box, seeking new employees. This year, facing a massive pandemic paperwork backlog, the tax agency also is holing special job fairs.

When thee COVID-pandemic hit the United States in 2020, Uncle Sam's tax agency did what many businesses did. It closed most of its offices for months.

Many IRS agents did their jobs remotely, but there are some things that just can't be handled from a home office.

That why, two years and three filing seasons later, the IRS still is trying to dig out from the millions of returns that piled up during the height of the first wave of coronavirus.

This week, the IRS and Treasury Department announced an official plan to tackle the unprocessed returns.

It involves reassignments of current staff, as well as hiring more people.

15x larger backlog: It's not unusual for the IRS to start each new filing season with a backlog of returns. After all, there is only so much humans can do.

The typical carryforward inventory is less than 1 million items.

But when the 2022 filing season arrived, the IRS was staring at a tax processing backlog that was more than 15 times the normal amount.

Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo and IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig on March 10 met with IRS personnel at the agency's Philadelphia campus and outlined the plan to deal with the backlog and return to normal, more manageable levels by the end of this year.

Internal surge team transfers: The key is personnel. The IRS plans to shift existing staff into surge teams to deal with the backlog, have some work overtime, and also hire 10,000 new employees.

In February, the IRS moved around 800 employees with previous return processing experience to address the backlog. A second round of this so-called surge staffing will build on the earlier effort.

In addition, Adeyemo and Rettig said a new 700-person surge team is in the works to process new returns.

The IRS also is now shifting employees at its Austin (Texas), Ogden (Utah), and Kansas City (Missouri) campuses to process original returns. Their efforts will focus on the current, and historically high, number of paper tax filings.

At full capacity, this surge team will close millions of cases each month, according to Adeyemo and Rettig.

More OT, more outside help: Since current staff is swamped and cannot finish during regular business hours, the IRS has instituted mandatory overtime with corresponding increased pay for the more than 6,000 employees processing original returns.

Overtime is also available for approximately 10,000 employees processing amended returns and taxpayer correspondence.

Employees in the three submission processing centers also are working night shifts to get through returns and correspondence.

Plus, the IRS is seeking outside help. It is pursuing additional contracting options to help with original return processing. These jobs include mailroom operations, transcription services, and the input of paper returns into IRS systems.

Looking for 10,000 new employees: While outside contractors can help, the IRS also wants to bulk up its own staff.

The agency is holding job fairs this month in Kansas City, Austin, and Ogden. The goal is to fill 5,000 open positions in the coming months.

Don't live in one of those cities, but would be willing to move? Then you should check out the IRS' virtual direct hiring events on March 16, 23, and 30. During this recruitment effort, the IRS will review resumés, and extend job offers to eligible applicants on the spot.  

If, however, you live in or near the three IRS campuses, you can make your in-person pitch as to why the IRS should hire you at job fairs in Ogden, Kansas City, and Austin. The locations and items are in the table below.


IRS Job Fairs


Dates and Times

Kansas City IRS Campus
333 W. Pershing Road
Kansas City, Missouri 64109

March 18 from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Central Time

March 19 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Central Time

Austin IRS Campus
South Park Office Complex
5015 South Interstate Highway 35
Austin, Texas 78744

March 24 from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Central Time

March 25 from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Central Time

Utah Department
  of Workforce Services

1290 East 1450 South
Clearfield, Utah 84015

March 31 from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Mountain Time

April 1 from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Mountain Time


Getting ready to go after the job: If you're interested and able to attend the in-person recruitment efforts, below are some guidelines and how to prepare for the interview.

IRS hiring Austin 2022 back-cropped_CCI_000016
Back of IRS jobs postcard

You must preregister. Do so at jobs.irs.gov/events. There you'll also find more on the virtual IRS job fairs.

If you attend one of the IRS recruiting events, social-distancing is required. However, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, wearing a mask is optional for job fair sites.

As with the virtual hiring event, you'll need your resumé.

You'll also need two forms of identification, such as your state driver's license and/or state identification card, birth certificate, U.S. passport, military ID card, or Social Security card.

Also, all IRS employees also must:

  • be U.S. citizens (including naturalized),
  • pass an FBI fingerprint check.
  • be current and compliant on their personal taxes, and
  • meet the mandatory education, training and experience qualification requirements.

If the IRS recruiter at either the virtual or in-person job fairs determines you are a qualified applicant, you could receive an immediate job offer under a special hiring condition called direct-hire authority. If you get an IRS job, you can expect to begin work within 30 to 45 days of the job offer.

Thanks for your interest and willingness to help. Good luck!

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