TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

IRS Didn't Answer 22.4 Million Taxpayer Phone Calls

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration yesterday released Higher Than Planned Call Demand Reduced Toll-Free Telephone Access for the 2009 Filing Season (2009-40-127):

During the 2009 Filing Season, 75.7 million total dialed attempts were made to the IRS toll-free telephone lines. Through automation and assistors, the IRS answered 35.8 million (47.3%) calls during normal hours of operation. However, 22.4 million calls were not answered during normal hours of operation because the taxpayers hung up, were courtesy disconnected5 by the IRS, or received a busy signal. IRS officials stated that the 22.4 million calls included calls from taxpayers who called back and received service, dialed the IRS repeatedly, or hung up for reasons outside the IRS’ control. The IRS experienced high call demand during the last two filing seasons. Nevertheless, even when the IRS achieves more than an 80% Level of Service, millions of calls are not answered by IRS assistors.

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Comments

During Q3 2008, when the IRS was disbursing checks for the 2008 "mini" stimulus, I could not even get through the main IRS switchboard number. The entire system crashed due to the call volume from prospective recipients of stimulus checks, according to an IRS customer service rep whom I finally reached after the system partially restored. In the private sector, such a catastrophic system-wide phone system failure would drive any company out of business. And Obama wants to put that same IRS in charge of health care administration and support? I shudder at the thought....

Posted by: GPeters | Oct 7, 2009 7:36:21 AM

"courtesy disconnected"? That's a new one on me!

Posted by: RT | Oct 7, 2009 10:19:10 AM

Nothing in the world pisses me off more than the the AVR systems where they cut you off and you can't even sit on hold if you want to.

Posted by: Bandit | Oct 8, 2009 6:05:14 AM

Worse, as a POA on behalf of a client and needed an answer to a tax issue and after waiting on the phone for about 45 minutes and listening to the "Nutcracker Suite" over and over, I was finally connected with an IRS rep.

He wouldn't listen to what I was asking and started going through "20 questions" about contact and banking information on the client, most of which I didn't have. Finally, I said that providing all that information wasn't the purpose of the call and that I just needed a quick answer. So, what did he do? He got mad and hung up on me! That one got counted as call that went through, but it didn't result in a productive outcome. (I wish that I had written down the guy's ID number.)

Posted by: Woody | Oct 8, 2009 11:13:29 AM