IRS customer service leaves millions of calls unanswered - KMSP-TV

IRS customer service leaves millions of calls unanswered

Posted: Updated:
By FOX NEWS - Have a question on your tax returns? Don't ask the IRS. 

As tax day looms, an annual watchdog report to Congress finds that the agency is falling short when it comes to answering Americans' questions about the convoluted tax code. 

The National Taxpayer Advocate found only 61 percent of people seeking to speak with a customer service representative last year got through to anybody -- leaving nearly 20 million calls unanswered. 

The report largely blamed budget cuts, and lamented the impact the poor customer service is having on taxpayers. 

"At the risk of vast understatement, it is a sad state of affairs when the government writes tax laws as complex as ours -- and then is unable to answer any questions beyond 'basic' ones from baffled citizens who are doing their best to comply," the report from National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson said. 

The study detailed how customer service has steadily declined over the past several years, including at its 400 "walk-in sites." In fiscal 2014, the office said, the IRS will only answer "basic" questions at those sites during filing season. And it will not answer any questions, "even basic ones," after April, even for filers who got extensions. 

"In addition, the IRS will discontinue its longstanding practice of preparing tax returns for low income, elderly and disabled taxpayers who seek help," the report said. 

With the erosion in services, wait times have gone up. In fiscal 2004, callers were left on hold for just 2.6 minutes. Today, the average wait time is nearly 18 minutes. 

Some taxpayers resort to writing letters to the IRS with their questions. The agency received 8.4 million such letters last year, but more than half were not answered by the end of fiscal 2013, the report said. 

The problems stems in large part from budget cuts. The training budget has, according to the report, gone from $172 million a few years ago to $22 million. The workforce itself has fallen from 95,000 full-time workers to 87,000. 

"Thus, the IRS not only has fewer employees than four years ago, but those who remain are less equipped to perform their jobs," the report said. 

As the IRS is reluctant, like other agencies, to simply lay off employees in the face of budget cuts, it has targeted areas like training for cuts.

Read More
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Superstorm Sandy

    NYU Langone unveils rebuilt emergency room

    NYU Langone unveils rebuilt emergency room

    Thursday, April 24 2014 5:54 PM EDT2014-04-24 21:54:40 GMT
    A year and a half after Superstorm Sandy hit New York, a major city emergency facility that was destroyed finally fully reopened Thursday — with waterproof walls. Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined Mayor Bill de Blasio and other dignitaries to celebrate the emergency complex at the NYU Langone Medical Center, which is now triple the size of the old one and equipped with the latest technology.
    A year and a half after Superstorm Sandy hit New York, a major city emergency facility that was destroyed finally fully reopened Thursday — with waterproof walls. Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined Mayor Bill de Blasio and other dignitaries to celebrate the emergency complex at the NYU Langone Medical Center, which is now triple the size of the old one and equipped with the latest technology.
  • Princeton University giving town $24M

    Princeton University giving town $24M

    Thursday, April 24 2014 5:33 PM EDT2014-04-24 21:33:55 GMT
    Princeton University has agreed to contribute more than $24 million over the next seven years to the town of Princeton. The deal was announced Thursday and is set for consideration by the town government's approval on Monday. The university and town officials frame it was as a way to resolve an age-old issue in college towns where much of the land is university-owned and thus tax-exempt.
    Princeton University has agreed to contribute more than $24 million over the next seven years to the town of Princeton. The deal was announced Thursday and is set for consideration by the town government's approval on Monday. The university and town officials frame it was as a way to resolve an age-old issue in college towns where much of the land is university-owned and thus tax-exempt.
  • Connecticut: DNA shows wolf-dog reports false

    Connecticut: DNA shows wolf-dog reports false

    Thursday, April 24 2014 4:59 PM EDT2014-04-24 20:59:07 GMT
    Connecticut environmental officials say DNA tests on samples from seven animals in North Stonington show they are domestic dogs with no recent wolf ancestors.
    Connecticut environmental officials say DNA tests on samples from seven animals in North Stonington show they are domestic dogs with no recent wolf ancestors.
Powered by WorldNow

KMSP-TV
11358 Viking Drive
Eden Prairie, MN 55344

Phone: (952) 944-9999
Fax: (952) 942-0455

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices