The Internal Revenue Service answered the smallest number of calls ever this past year, according to a new report. Its not like the customer service from the IRS was ever really good — and be prepared for it to get even worse (if that is possible), as coming budget cuts are going to put an even bigger strain on customer service.
National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson said, in a report released to Congress on January 9th, that the IRS could answer only 61% of the calls it received from taxpayers during the 2013 fiscal year. It was estimated that of the calls that did go through, most were on hold for quite some time, while an estimated 20 million calls didn’t even go through.
According to CNBC.com, the level of service is a sharp drop from a decade ago. In the 2004 fiscal year, the IRS answered nearly nine in 10 calls, and the average wait time was less than three minutes, according to the taxpayer advocate, an independent voice in the IRS that works on behalf of taxpayers.
Olson blamed a lack of resources. The overall IRS budget has been cut every year since the 2010 fiscal year, her report said, and the amount allocated for training has been slashed significantly as part of that.
Budget has been cut to this service every year since 2010. Things have become so bad that the IRS said that in 2014 it will stop preparing tax returns for people who need help, such as those who are elderly or disabled. The agency also plans to answer only “basic” tax law questions, and only during the normal filing season through April 15th. Instead you will be directed to their website, or other “automated services” for information.
“It’s a lose-lose situation,” said Nina Crimm, a professor at St. John’s University School of Law and an expert on tax issues. “It’s a lose situation for… the average taxpayer, and it’s a lose situation for compliance and collection of revenues.”
Chances are there will be plenty of bad tax filings this year from people who were unable to receive help, which means less money for the IRS — and in some cases less money for the tax filer.