Thursday, February 25, 2010
In testimony yesterday before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman requested an additional $20.9 million to increase its level of telephone performance from 71% to 75%. From the National Taxpayer Advocate's 2009 Annual Report to Congress:
[T]axpayers have found it increasingly difficult to reach an IRS telephone assistor. During the 2007 tax return filing season, the IRS attained a Customer Service Representative Level of Service (CSR LOS) of 83% on its toll-free lines. In the 2008 filing season, the CSR LOS declined to 77%. During the 2009 filing season, the service level dropped further to 64% with a 519-second average speed of answer (ASA), which means the average caller sat on hold for nearly nine minutes. These declining numbers indicate that the IRS is not achieving its goal of improving service to facilitate voluntary compliance.
In response to the declining levels of phone service, the IRS has set goals of 71% percent for CSR LOS and 698 seconds for ASA in fiscal year 2010. In other words, the IRS has set its priorities so that nearly three out of every ten calls seeking to reach an IRS telephone assistor will not get through, and callers who do receive assistance will first have to wait on hold for an average of nearly 12 minutes.