Want to improve the IRS? SPEAK UP

Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP)                           

Want to improve the IRS?  SPEAK UP

By Andrea Price, TAP member representing Ohio
The Truth Contributor

The Taxpayer Advocacy Panel is comprised of civic-minded citizen volunteers from all walks of life representing each state, D.C., Puerto Rico and an international member (citizens living, working or doing business abroad). TAP is a Federal Advisory Committee whose mission is to listen to taxpayers, identify taxpayers’ issues and make suggestions for improving the IRS service and customer satisfaction.

Everyone has something to say about taxes and the IRS. Please take a moment to give us your suggestions for TAP to consider by contacting one of the following:

TAP Ohio member: tapohioandreaprice@gmail.com

Call Toll-free at:1-888-912-1227

Website: www.improveirs.org

The IRS Customer Service significantly declines

TREASURY INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR TAX ADMINISTRATION –Interim Results of the Tax 2021 filing Season -issued on May 6, 2021.

The IRS assists millions of taxpayers via its website (IRS.gov), telephone, and social media platforms as well as face-to-face assistance at its TACs, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites, and Tax Counseling for the Elderly sites. Between March 20, 2020, and
April 6, 2020, the IRS closed its offices nationwide, resulting in most customer service assistance options for taxpayers being unavailable. These actions continue to negatively affect the IRS’s ability to provide quality customer service.

Online (website) assistance

The IRS provides easy-to-use self-assistance options that enable taxpayers to access the information they need 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The most noteworthy self-assistance option is the IRS’s public Internet site, IRS.gov. The IRS reported 555.7 million visits to IRS.gov this filing season as of March 5, 2021. In comparison, the IRS reported 321.4 million visits to IRS.gov for the 2020 Filing Season as of March 6, 2020. [NOTE: The issue remains that millions of people do not have broadband access or access to the internet. This service is not accessible to them.]

Toll-free telephone level of assistance

As of March 5, 2021, taxpayers made nearly 46.3 million total attempts and 30.8 million net attempts (during working hours) to contact the IRS by calling the various customer service toll-free telephone assistance lines. The IRS reports that nearly 7.6 million calls were answered with automation, and telephone assistors answered more than 4.4 million calls.

2020                                        2021

Assistor (staff) Calls Answered                      4,794,000                                4,444,000

Level of Service                                              68.2%                                      27.3%
Average Speed of Answer (Minutes)             10                                            18

Level of Access (call attempts/answered)     59.1%                                      28.8%

Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TAC)-local IRS offices

Each year, millions of taxpayers seek assistance from one of the IRS’s 358 walk-in offices, called TACs. In response to the Pandemic, the IRS closed all of its TAC offices nationwide. As of March 8, 2021, the IRS has yet to reopen 72 of its 358 TACs. When a TAC is closed, taxpayers may have to try to resolve their questions from the IRS website or contact a tax preparer for assistance. IRS management indicated that of the 72 TACs that remain closed, 17 are unstaffed. The IRS reports that 55 of the 72 TACs are closed because of staffing issues due to COVID-19.

Similar to prior filing seasons, the IRS continues to use its appointment service for all TACs. The IRS indicated that it initially began providing services at the TACs by appointment to alleviate long lines that sometimes occurred at many TACs and help ensure that taxpayers’ issues are timely resolved. As a further service to taxpayers, the IRS will attempt to resolve the taxpayer’s question or provide the taxpayer with information on alternative services when they call to schedule an appointment.

As of February 28, 2021, the IRS reports that IRS employees answered 484,465 calls to schedule an appointment. Of these, 181,890 calls necessitated that the taxpayer schedule an appointment and visit a TAC; the remaining 302,575 taxpayers were assisted without visiting a TAC. The IRS noted that taxpayers who travel to a TAC without an appointment are assisted if there is availability. As of February 28, 2021, the IRS reported that it helped 909 taxpayers who visited a TAC without an appointment.