Paul L. Caron

Monday, October 4, 2010

IRS Answered Only 8.8% of 352,758 Telephone Calls From Deaf Taxpayers

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has released Toll-Free Telephone Access Exceeded Expectations, but Access for Hearing- and Speech-Impaired Taxpayers Could Be Improved (2010-40-108):

During the 2010 Filing Season, the IRS exceeded its key toll-free telephone assistance performance measurement goals. However, hearing- and speech-impaired callers that used the IRS Text Tele-typewriter/Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TTY/TDD) telephone line experienced a low Level of Service and had difficulty reaching an IRS assistor. ...The Level of Service for the TTY/TDD toll-free telephone line for the 2010 Filing Season was 8.8%, the lowest Level of Service since the 2003 Filing Season when it was 6.2%. The TTY/TDD product line Level of Service has consistently provided the lowest Level of Service among all of the Customer Account Services Enterprise product lines.


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What about any data on receiving VRS calls? I understand that IRS is violating ADA laws by not allowing VRS calls. In addition, more of them are now using VRS instead of VRS. Where is the data?

Posted by: Jack | Oct 5, 2010 5:54:30 AM

I have worked in customer service taking inbound calls for more than ten years. I can tell right now that if any company had stats as bad as those that company would be out of business. For starters, the service level is way too low. Service level - the amount of people that are available to take a call at any point in time - is too low. At my last job the service level was expected to be 95%. The TTY service at the IRS declined from a high of 19% in 2008 to 9% in 2010. Even though the year is not over, unless there is divine intervention the IRS is not going to make that up.

Calls were expected to be answered in 60 seconds or less at all of the jobs that I worked at where I was answering the phone. A high answer time usually meant there was a good chance that you would have a high abandon time, as evidenced by the high primary and secondary abandon rates.

Now, granted, TTY calls take a longer time to process because you're speaking through a TTY operator and a communication barrier always opens up when you have a third party communicating information to your client. However, those stats, in my opinion, indicate that the IRS in general does not have enough staff dedicated to solely assisting TTY customers. If their stats are this bad handling TTY customers, I wonder how bad they are for clients who are NOT deaf.

Posted by: Chris Bolts Sr | Oct 4, 2010 4:05:36 PM

Oh, goody. I am so glad we gave them health care.

Posted by: wikiwiki | Oct 4, 2010 2:19:43 PM

If a private corporation had that low of a TTY response rate they'd be teed up for a multi-million dollar lawsuit. What's the penalty for the IRS?

Posted by: Kazinski | Oct 4, 2010 1:24:40 PM

Soooo, they don't have a full time person to handle over 300 thousand calls a year? And if they do, that person should be fired for actually managing to field about 1.5 calls a (work) day...

Posted by: WitchDoctor | Oct 4, 2010 1:17:36 PM

Surely (for 2010) the table should be saying 33,900 (or so) calls answered? (~ dials less abandons?) Still, even that is 9.9% answer rate. I wonder what that "performance measure" is?

Posted by: Don Pettengill | Oct 4, 2010 1:10:44 PM

This can only be described as intentional. I have worked on help lines. In the past this was a big hassle with real limitations. Today it has become not much different than normal conversation. Once in a while you might have a translation problem, but nothing someone with intelligence can't figure out.
Whether the intent is management driven or laziness or both I will not say. I can speak from experience that there is not enough difference in the details to remotely justify such a situation.

Posted by: ed | Oct 4, 2010 1:06:03 PM

339 calls answered out of 352,758 calls is 0.096%

Posted by: JMac | Oct 4, 2010 12:18:02 PM