Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee are the latest group to call on the Internal Revenue Service to implement 2-D barcoding technology on individual tax forms.

“We are writing to strongly encourage the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to work with tax return software companies to implement 2-D barcoding technology for use during the 2023 tax filing season for the 1040 family of paper returns,” the GOP senators, led by Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), said in a May 24, 2022, letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.

Similar calls have been made by other stakeholders, including the National Taxpayer Advocate, who sent a directive to the IRS in March to implement 2-D barcoding in time for use with the 2023 tax season.

The GOP senators noted that the IRS is financially capable of doing this now. In the letter, the senators referenced the 2017 budget request of $8.4 million for implementation of 2-D barcoding and the $1 billion earmarked in the American Rescue Plan of 2021 for IT modernization, of which they state only $98.5 million so far has been spent.

The group also called on the agency to “stop chasing technological perfection” in the letter.

“If we were to wait for the promise of better technology, nothing would ever get implemented,” the letter states. “To the contrary, the fact that 2-D technology is a bit older probably means it has been tested and is less expensive. Many states currently use 2-D barcoding for tax returns, so we have proof it works.”

2-D barcoding came back into the forefront of needed IT upgrades for the IRS during the pandemic that caused a significant backlog of unprocessed paper returns. As of April 29, the agency still had more than 18 million unprocessed paper returns, though Commissioner Rettig has stated in numerous congressional hearings that the backlog will be back to its “normal” levels by the end of 2022.