The coronavirus pandemic is causing lengthy delays at federal agencies responsible for processing tax returns and passport applications. U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (R-Illinois) says his office can help only in limited cases, and delays are expected to persist for months.
"A lot of work can be done from home, but the reality is opening paper tax returns filed by mail and creating official passport documentation requires federal workers to be in their offices," Shimkus explained. "So now we have a situation where mail and applications have been piling up for months. That backlog will take time to work through, especially as safeguards remain in place to protect workers."
According to the Internal Revenue Service, as many as 11 million tax returns filed by mail have yet to be opened. Paper returns will be processed in the order they were received, and tax filers are advised not to file a second return. Shimkus says his office can only obtain status updates for those returns that have already been opened by the IRS.
"This year's tax filing deadline is July 15," Shimkus said. "So if you haven't filed yet, I strongly encourage you to file electronically – especially if you're expecting a refund."
Like this year's tax returns, as many as 1.6 million passport applications are also delayed according to the State Department. Shimkus says his office is only able to expedite passports in life or death situations.
Constituents who have questions or need help in dealing with any federal agency can contact Shimkus through shimkus.house.gov