IRS customer service leaves millions of calls unanswered - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

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>>

  • Pregnant woman says officer put her in choke hold

    Pregnant woman says officer put her in choke hold

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:04 AM EDT2014-07-29 15:04:28 GMT
    A Brooklyn woman who is seven months pregnant released photos that she said show an NYPD officer putting her in a choke hold as she was being arrested for grilling on the sidewalk outside her home.  Rosean Miller was arrested for disorderly conduct on Saturday and her husband Moses was arrested for obstructing government business, a criminal charge. It's the latest in a string of reported choke holds by police officers. The move is not allowed under NYPD policy. 
    A Brooklyn woman who is seven months pregnant released photos that she said show an NYPD officer putting her in a choke hold as she was being arrested for grilling on the sidewalk outside her home.  Rosean Miller was arrested for disorderly conduct on Saturday and her husband Moses was arrested for obstructing government business, a criminal charge. It's the latest in a string of reported choke holds by police officers. The move is not allowed under NYPD policy. 
  • Stuck NJ Transit train removed

    Stuck NJ Transit train removed

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 10:03 AM EDT2014-07-29 14:03:41 GMT
    A New Jersey Transit commuter train that became disabled just outside the Hudson River tunnel in Manhattan on Tuesday has been removed. 1,000 passengers were on board when the Northeast Corridor train became stuck, according to NJ Transit officials. A rescue train was attached to the disabled train and removed to Penn Station about an hour behind schedule. It is not clear what caused the mechanical problem. There are residual delays on NJT trains into and out of Penn Station.
    A New Jersey Transit commuter train that became disabled just outside the Hudson River tunnel in Manhattan on Tuesday has been removed. 1,000 passengers were on board when the Northeast Corridor train became stuck, according to NJ Transit officials. A rescue train was attached to the disabled train and removed to Penn Station about an hour behind schedule. It is not clear what caused the mechanical problem. There are residual delays on NJT trains into and out of Penn Station.
  • The Big Idea

    Making New York City more energy efficient

    Making New York City more energy efficient

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 9:22 AM EDT2014-07-29 13:22:47 GMT
    More than half the population of New York City rides public transportation to work. No other metropolis in this country even approaches that percentage or the MTA's total number of riders. For that reason, New York likely ranks as the most energy-efficient city in the nation. But what would it take to make the city even more energy-efficient or even self-sufficient?
    More than half the population of New York City rides public transportation to work. No other metropolis in this country even approaches that percentage or the MTA's total number of riders. For that reason, New York likely ranks as the most energy-efficient city in the nation. But what would it take to make the city even more energy-efficient or even self-sufficient?
Powered by WorldNow

KDFW FOX 4
400 N. Griffin Street
Dallas, Texas 75202

Main Station Directory:
(214) 720-4444
News Fax:
(214) 720-3263 or (214) 720-3333

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