Wednesday, January 5, 2022
Customer Service At The IRS Is So Bad, Even Tax Pros Are Fed Up
Bloomberg Businessweek, Customer Service at the IRS Is So Bad, Even Tax Pros Are Fed Up:
As tax season approaches, the agency is short-staffed, underfunded, and so overwhelmed with calls that even a phone number for VIPs is a bust.
Reaching the IRS has always been an exercise in patience. But years of budget cuts have pushed the agency to the limit. Its customer service workforce has shrunk more than 40% since 2010, according to the most recent data, and the agency is struggling to fill vacancies amid a labor shortage—handcuffed by a federal pay scale that starts college graduates at little more than fast-food wages.
IRS representatives answered fewer than 1 in 10 phone calls during the 2021 tax-filing season, according to National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins, who heads an independent arm of the agency designed to help taxpayers resolve problems. Even in off-peak periods the agency is answering only about 4 in 10. ...
Last season’s call volume was almost four times what it was during the 2018 filing season. During one spike in March 2021, the agency says, it received as many as 1,500 calls per second. The prospects for this filing season don’t look much better. ...
The phone issues are such that some tax professionals are paying for robots to hold their place in line. A startup called EnQ Inc. offers a service, starting at about $100 a month, that makes robocalls to the agency’s special practitioner line (i.e., the bat phone), waits on hold, and then, when it makes a connection, puts the client through to an IRS agent. ...
A bipartisan group of senators urged the IRS in November to investigate the company’s practices, saying that by “flooding the IRS lines” with robocalls it may be exacerbating the agency’s poor response rate.