IRS releases 2020 Progress Update; annual report details unprecedented year


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IR-2021-03, January 5, 2021

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today released its 2020 annual report describing the agency's work delivering taxpayer service and compliance efforts during COVID-19 while spotlighting actions taken by IRS employees to help people during the challenging year.

"Internal Revenue Service Progress Update/Fiscal Year 2020 – Putting Taxpayers FirstPDF" outlines how the agency overcame difficulties during the pandemic to deliver Economic Impact Payments in record time. At the same time, IRS employees made adjustments to complete a successful filing season despite office closures and the latest tax deadline ever.

"The COVID-19 pandemic presented some of the greatest challenges to the IRS in its history, both in terms of being able to carry out our mission and in protecting the health and safety of taxpayers and our own workforce," IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig wrote in the report's opening message and addressed in his A Closer Look column. "IRS employees responded admirably by quickly facilitating financial assistance to millions of deserving and needy Americans."

The 44-page report also highlights accomplishments around the agency's six strategic goals and identifies ongoing modernization efforts. This year's edition also discusses work related to implementing the Taxpayer First Act.

"Even with all the challenges, we believe we have made great strides during Fiscal Year 2020, but we want to do more," Rettig said.

Rettig explained that each year the IRS collects more than $3 trillion in taxes and generates approximately 96% of the funding that supports the federal government's operations.

"My experiences as Commissioner have strengthened my belief that a fully functioning IRS is critical to the success of our nation," he said. "When citizens can perform their civic duty each year by preparing and filing their taxes and paying only what they should, they help fund critical aspects of the United States ranging from schools and roads to Social Security payments and the nation's military."

The document lays out numerous examples of how IRS employees helped taxpayers, including:

  • Expanded information and assistance available to taxpayers in additional languages and underserved communities to help deliver Economic Impact Payments and other services.
  • Adjusted agency processes through the People First Initiative to help people and businesses encountering payment and other challenges during the pandemic.
  • Offered an electronic filing option for amended tax returns with the new Form 1040-X, marking a major milestone to help taxpayers and the tax community.
  • Served their communities outside official duties through charitable donations and service projects.

The report also illustrates ways IRS employees worked to maintain the tax system through a strong, visible and robust tax enforcement presence. The IRS enhanced its criminal investigation and civil enforcement efforts with an expanded use of data analytics and artificial intelligence across all lanes from selection to examination.

The new Progress Update also highlights IRS work partnering on landmark criminal investigative cases that brought down child pornography, drug and terrorist organizations.

The agency continued to step up its pursuit of those who promote and make use of abusive tax shelters, including syndicated conservation easements, where it saw successful Tax Court litigation and the completion of the first settlement initiative.

The report also explains the IRS' Integrated Business Modernization Plan, the roadmap guiding agency efforts to offer best-in-class service people are accustomed to receiving from an online retailer or financial institution.

"As we move into the future, the name of the game for the IRS will continue to be innovation, creativity and service to the people of our country to make their world better," Rettig said. "Given all we've accomplished together in 2020 and all we're working to achieve, we believe the future looks bright for the IRS, the tax system and our nation."

The resource document complements other documents, including the annual IRS Data Book.