Tax filing time is here and you’ve been waiting on the phone for a representative from the Internal Revenue Service to come on the line and help you with a very important issue. And you’re still waiting.
Getting through to the IRS this year is taking longer, if you get through at all. This year, only 40 percent even get to talk to someone over the phone. And you may be looking at a delay in getting a refund as well.
The IRS says a lack of resources is at fault, spanning the past five years which have seen broad federal budget cuts. The agency even had to implement a hiring freeze.
Judy Woodruff, of PBS, interviewed IRS Commissioner John Koskinen about these problems. Here’s the exchange regarding phone delays, something that might be of interest to taxpayers as April 15 looms:
“We know that, last year, 70 percent of the people who tried to get through with a question were successful. This year, that’s down to fewer than 40 percent. The average wait time for taxpayers trying to get through to the IRS with questions shot up from 10 minutes last year to 24 minutes this year. What has happened?”
“Well, over the last five years, our budget has been cut by $1.2 billion.
“In December of this year, the last $350 million of that cut was provided. We only had nine months left in the year, so we had to take difficult choices across the board. One of them was, 70 percent or more of our budget is personnel. So, had to immediately say we wouldn’t hire any new personnel.
“We also had to not hire for as long a period of time as many seasonal workers that we bring in during the tax season, because that’s the busiest time of the year. And we didn’t hire our couple thousand temporary employees we normally would hire.
“And those are all decisions we knew would have a negative impact on taxpayer services. We had warned the Congress about it, but we had no choice.”
See the full interview here.