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Saturday, February 1, 2014

IRS Kicks Off 2014 Tax Season, Apologizes in Advance for Clogged Phone Lines

IRS Logo 2IR-2014-9 (Jan. 31, 2014), IRS Kicks Off 2014 Tax Season:

The Internal Revenue Service today opened the 2014 filing season by highlighting a growing array of online services and encouraging taxpayers to check out a variety of tax benefits, such as the often-overlooked Earned Income Tax Credit.

Taxpayers have until Tuesday, April 15, 2014, to file their 2013 tax returns and pay any tax due. The IRS expects to receive more than 148 million individual tax returns this year, and more than four out of five returns are now filed electronically.

BloombergBusinessweek, IRS Apologizes in Advance for Clogged Phones as Tax Season Opens:

The IRS won’t be able to answer millions of phone calls from taxpayers this year, Commissioner John Koskinen said today.

The IRS said it answered 61 percent of calls that came in to customer service lines last year. Koskinen, who became commissioner in December, said he hoped the agency could reach 70 percent this year. “I apologize for the public that we can’t do more,” Koskinen said on the first day of the U.S. individual tax filing season, which lasts until April 15. “I personally just find it unacceptable.”

Forbes:  IRS: Don't Call Us, Look It Up On IRS.Gov, by Janet Novack:

As the Internal Revenue Service begins  processing an expected 148 million individual income tax returns for 2013, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen  is apologizing to taxpayers for the sorry state of telephone and walk-in service and  urging them to use www.IRS.gov instead.

Last year, only 60.5% of taxpayers who called the IRS’ toll-free assistance line got through to a human being and then only after an average of 17.6 minutes on hold.  In a tax season kick-off press conference today, Koskinen said the IRS had been hoping to answer 78% to 80% of calls this year. But after the 2014 budget deal failed to restore the budget sequester cuts imposed on the IRS, the agency is setting its sights lower. “We don’t expect that our customer service is going to be able to improve very much,’’ Koskinen said, adding “we would love” to get as high as 70% of calls answered during this filing season. ...

Along with phone service, the IRS has cut back services at its walk in Taxpayer Assistance Centers, where lines can be long. This year, workers in those centers will no longer answer “complex” tax law questions, only “basic” ones, and will no longer prepare tax returns for low-income and elderly taxpayers.

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