Report: IRS service worse than expected
As it turns out, the IRS’s customer service this filing season was actually even worse than expected.
Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration found that the IRS answered the phone 38.5 percent of the time when taxpayers called through March 7, out of some 45.6 million calls.
The IRS had projected a 40.7 percent rate before the filing season, while the nation’s taxpayer advocate said it could go as low as 43 percent.
Either figure was well below basically any measure of how well the agency answered the phone in previous years. The inspector general found the agency answered about three of four phone calls in 2013, while the IRS itself has said it was previously able to respond 60 percent of the time. Around a decade ago, the IRS answered the phone almost nine of every 10 times.
John Koskinen, the IRS commissioner, has been warning for months that the agency’s reduced budget would hurt its ability to help taxpayers. Republicans have said the agency could find savings elsewhere in its budget to improve its customer service.
The average time it takes for the IRS to answer the phone has also gotten much longer, hitting almost 25 minutes this filing season. That’s up from just a couple of minutes a decade ago and around 12 to 15 minutes in recent years.