Millions of taxpayers depend on the IRS for help and guidance, many of whom cannot afford to hire professional help for tax preparation and tax debt resolution. The IRS is hindered by a lack of staff and funds, and in the end their inability to serve affects the taxpayers who need it the most.
According to a recent report, the IRS answered only a small number of taxpayers’ phone calls this year, the lowest rate in recent years. The report also states that the IRS kept taxpayers on hold for much longer.
Congress’ cuts to the IRS budget directly affect the services that the agency provides to taxpayers. Even though the IRS has made many resources available to taxpayers such as the IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TAC), it receives hundreds of calls every day from taxpayers who wish to get their problems resolved. The IRS could only attend to 61% of the calls it received in 2013. This means that about 20 million calls went unanswered due the lack of staff. It also means that around 20 million taxpayers could not get timely help from the IRS.
On average, taxpayers had to wait for at least 18 minutes before an IRS representative answered their call. The calls to the IRS are expected to rise substantially in the coming tax season, but judging from the IRS’ response, taxpayers may expect difficulties in getting through.
The IRS has not always lagged behind in customer service. In 2004, the agency answered more than 90% of its calls. On average, a taxpayer had to wait for around three minutes to get through. Due to the budget cuts every year since 2010, the IRS has cut back on services to taxpayers. Congress has cut the IRS budget again this year, so these issues are likely to persist. The IRS also made many of its services automated and continues to assist taxpayers through literature on their website.