WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — On Thursday, the IRS commissioner Charles Rettig told lawmakers that his agency is working hard to eliminate its backlog of tax returns.

“When will the backlog be eliminated,” rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) asked.

“If the world stays as it is today, we will be what we call healthy by the end of calendar year 22,” Rettig responded.

For now, millions of Americans are still waiting for the IRS to process past claims. Rettig acknowledged that needs to change.

“A successful fully functioning IRS is important to the continued success of the country,” he said.

Rettig reassured lawmakers that the IRS is working to hire thousands of employees over the next year to help catch up on the backlog that was caused by the pandemic.

When one lawmaker asked what took so long, Retting said that the plan had been in place since the start of the pandemic. However, “there was no pandemic playbook,” he answered.

Rettig says the slow federal hiring system also delayed relief, but the new direct hiring authority will dramatically speed up the time it takes to bring in new agents in about 35-40 days.

He added that because paper returns take much longer to process, everyone can help by using quicker methods.

“One thing congress can do to help us, is to have people continue to file returns electronically,” Rettig said.

The current tax filing season ends on April 18.