Paul L. Caron
Dean


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Report: IRS Hung Up On 8.8 Million Taxpayers This Year (Up From 544k Last Year); ‘Courtesy Disconnects’ Increased 1,500 Percent

TAS 2National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson today released (IR-2015-97) her semi-annual report to Congress, FY 2016 Objectives Report to Congress:

“With funding down about 17 percent on an inflation-adjusted basis since FY 2010, and with the IRS having had to implement large portions of the [ACA] and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) this year without any supplemental funding, sharp declines in taxpayer service were inevitable,” Olson wrote. Likening the 2015 filing season to “A Tale of Two Cities,” however, the report says: “For the majority of taxpayers who filed their returns and did not require IRS assistance, the filing season was generally successful. For the segment of taxpayers who required help from the IRS, the filing season was by far the worst in memory.”

  • The IRS answered only 37 percent of taxpayer calls routed to customer service representatives overall, and the hold time for taxpayers who got through averaged 23 minutes. This level of service represents a sharp drop-off from the 2014 filing season, when the IRS answered 71 percent of its calls and hold times averaged about 14 minutes.
  • The IRS answered only 39 percent of calls from taxpayers seeking assistance from TAS on the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) Toll-Free hotline, and hold times averaged 19 minutes. TAS serves as the IRS’s “safety net” for taxpayers who are experiencing a financial or systemic hardship as a result of IRS action or inaction.
  • The IRS answered only 17 percent of calls from taxpayers who called after being notified that their tax returns had been blocked by the Taxpayer Protection Program (TPP) on suspicion of identity theft, and the hold times averaged about 28 minutes. In three consecutive weeks during the filing season, the IRS answered fewer than 10 percent of these calls.
  • The IRS answered only 45 percent of calls from practitioners who called the IRS on the Practitioner Priority Service line, and hold times averaged 45 minutes.
  • The number of “courtesy disconnects” received by taxpayers calling the IRS skyrocketed from about 544,000 in 2014 to about 8.8 million this filing season, an increase of more than 1,500 percent. The term “courtesy disconnect” is used when the IRS essentially hangs up on a taxpayer because its switchboard is overloaded and cannot handle additional calls.

  • The decline in telephone performance can be attributed largely to three factors: The number of taxpayer calls routed to telephone assistors increased by 41 percent, the number of calls answered by telephone assistors decreased by 26 percent, and the average call duration increased by 10 percent.
  • The IRS sharply restricted the availability of paper copies of forms and publications, imposing burden on taxpayers without Internet access or online literacy. The IRS’s own Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs) and its Tax Form Outlet Partners such as libraries and post offices did not receive forms until February 28, almost halfway through the filing season. Once a TAC ran out of forms or publications, it could not order more.

Press and blogosphere coverage:

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2015/07/report-irs-hung-up-on-88-million-taxpayers-this-year-up-from-544k-last-year.html

IRS News, Tax | Permalink

Comments

"With funding down about 17 percent on an inflation-adjusted basis since FY 2010, and with the IRS having had to implement large portions of the [ACA] and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) this year without any supplemental funding, sharp declines in taxpayer service were inevitable."

And yet, still, the dedicated public servants Storm Troopers managed to find money to continue their targeting of conservative groups and citizens, as well as money to destroy evidence of said crimes. Hmmm...

Posted by: Jeff H | Jul 16, 2015 5:50:33 AM

You say "yes", I say "no"
You say "stop" and I say "go go go, oh no...."
You say "goodbye" and I say "hello
Hello hello...."
I don't know why you say "goodbye", I say "hello
Hello hello...."
I don't know why you say "goodbye", I say "hello"

Posted by: Joseph W. Mooney | Jul 16, 2015 6:32:03 AM

The IRS declared war on conservative 501c4 groups. The Republican Congress cut their budget in response. The IRS attacked taxpayers in order to pressure Congress to increase funding.

I wonder how Congress will respond. I can't believe Commissioner Koskinen will have his job for long.

Posted by: Mike | Jul 16, 2015 7:04:32 AM

Same old crap. "Oh, noes! Budget cuts means we have to lay off policemen, firemen, and teachers!!" Only in this case, we have to cut back services to taxpayers.

Posted by: Buford Gooch | Jul 16, 2015 9:31:14 AM

It's time for Steve Martin to revise his "You can be a millionaire and never pay taxes" skit http://snltranscripts.jt.org/77/77imono.phtml

Instead of "I forgot", the modern approach when the IRS calls is to play them a recording, hang up, and call it a "courtesy disconnect".

Posted by: AMT buff | Jul 16, 2015 9:32:05 AM