Busy signals for taxpayers at IRS

Busy signals for taxpayers at IRS 

Posted: 8:55 pm Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

By Jamie Dupree

The nation’s taxpayer advocate reported to Congress on Tuesday that less than half of all phone calls to the Internal Revenue Service are being answered so far in 2015, raising questions about how taxpayers can get needed tax guidance and information from the agency on a wide variety of tax issues.

“From January 1 through February 14, the IRS answered only 43 percent of the calls it received from taxpayers seeking to speak with a customer service representative,” said Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olsen, who said the average time on hold this year is 28 minutes.

“By comparison, 77 percent of taxpayers got through and waited on hold an average of about 10 minutes during the same period last year,” Olsen added at a House hearing.

The details did not impress lawmakers.

“The trends are just not good in terms of response time,” said Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA).

“It does breed a lack of confidence, if not contempt, for the agency,” Rigell added at a House hearing.

Asked what the answer was, both Olsen and the IRS Inspector General had the same response for lawmakers.

“It’s resources, sir,” IRS Inspector General J. Russell George bluntly said to Rigell.

But calls by IRS leaders to add money to the tax agency’s budget – in order to insure that more phone calls are answered – have not been taken well by members of Congress.

“I don’t think complaining about the lack of money or not answering the telephone, I don’t think that’s the best way to restore trust,” said Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL).