IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig and Treasury Department officials warned that the 2022 tax season would bring “enormous challenges.” That prophecy is already coming true.

The tax season opened Monday. Just three days later, the IRS announced it was suspending the mailing of certain automated notices because of a backlog in processing returns. The move would avert additional correspondence with taxpayers that would only add to the paper logjam and possibly prevent even more stress for filers.

As of Dec. 31, the IRS had 6 million unprocessed individual returns, including returns for the 2020 tax year.

The agency didn’t provide a detailedlist of which notices it would be suspending, only referencing one type of letter, sent to taxpayers when the IRS has credited payments but has no record of the tax return being filed.

“Taxpayers who get a notice from the IRS are often petrified,” said Roger Harris, president of Padgett, a Georgia-based accounting firm. “All they want is the ability to find out what happened. But when they can’t get that help, it further builds their frustration and panic.”

Many taxpayers have been receiving what’s called a “CP80 Notice.”Taxpayers who had already filed a return are told to send a newly signed copy to the address listed in the notice.

Obviously, this direction has alarmed those taxpayers who conclude their original returns are probably in a pile in some IRS office waiting to be processed. Wouldn’t mailing another return just cause more confusion?

It could certainly make people anxious. In one letter shared with me, a taxpayer sent a check for more than $18,000 with the return only to receive the following response from the IRS:

“If you don’t file a return or contact us, you may lose this credit. The Internal Revenue Code sets strict time limits for refunding or transferring credits.”

That wording would freak me out.

On a sub-thread on Reddit devoted to IRS news and taxpayer disputes, a number of people sought advice after receiving a CP80 notice.

“I mailed in my tax return April 2021 but paid what was due online,” one Reddit user wrote. “Now of course I have no idea if they got my return. Should I [mail] my tax return in or wait another 2 months to see if they finally process the first one? I don’t want to lose my quite large payment credit. Knowing my luck if I sent a copy they would process both of them and tell me I owe double.”

Another wrote: “Man if the IRS is that backed up then why did they send out all these auto-generated forms? Inconvenience for everyone, including the IRS reps who have to handle all these calls.”