BIRMINGHAM Ala. (WIAT) — Millions of Americans still don’t have tax returns from 2020 as a result of COVID-19. This comes as the new tax filing season begins today. To prevent issues this year, officials encourage the public to file as early as possible, and electronically, to get returns distributed the quickest.

The IRS like, many agencies, continues to deal with budget cuts effecting it’s staffing levels. The agency has also taken on more responsibilities due to COVID-19, including distributing stimulus payments last year which contributes to a backlog of returns.

Neola Roseberry, with Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, said the Advanced Child Tax Credit payments is a widely discussed topic for this year’s tax season. She said many families are not aware they only received half of the funds in 2021.

“To them it seemed like it was a stimulus paper, in which it was not, so it’s caused a little issue with them. Please make sure you already have your CTC letter, which means the IRS is going to send out quite a few letters you to let you know what you got, how you were approved and how many payments you had,” Roseberry said.

This summer the IRS has plans to ramp it’s online security up. This includes making the public use facial recognition to access their tax information. Roseberry said this should make things safer for people who file taxes on the free sites online. The IRS said Americans must file taxes by April 18th and so far have not announced any additional extensions.