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The IRS won’t make its self-imposed deadline to solve its massive backlog of unprocessed tax returns by the end of this year, the agency’s inspector general said in a new report Thursday that said improvements have been made, but they weren’t enough to fix the mess.

The backlog grew during the coronavirus pandemic, as shutdown orders and changes in tax filing left the agency with a glut of returns and difficulty in processing them. With Congress and taxpayers screaming, the agency vowed to get “healthy” — or back to pre-pandemic levels — by the end of this year.

Its backlog peaked in June at 20.5 million returns and slimmed to 10.5 million near the end of October.

But the agency will miss its “healthy” goal.

“The delays in processing backlogged tax returns continue to burden taxpayers,” the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said in its year-end evaluation. “Our assessment of the remaining inventory and increased production levels indicates that the IRS will not meet all of its goals by the end of Calendar Year 2022 and will continue to have a backlog into the 2023 Filing Season.”

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