IRS Internal Watchdog Explains How Shutdown Harmed Taxpayers

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is struggling to address taxpayer concerns as a result of the recent partial government shutdown, according to the agency’s internal watchdog on Tuesday.

The government was partially shut down for a record number of days recently — and then finally reopened on January 25.

But by that time, the tax season for the year was just about to get underway.

The IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) released a report, which found the partial government shutdown has caused significant harm to taxpayers as a result.

“Then came the longest government shutdown in the history of the United States,” TAS leader Nina Olson said in the report.

“On January 28, when my office reopened, it was clear that the IRS baseline had changed. The five weeks could not have come at a worse time for the IRS — facing its first filing season implementing a massive new tax law, with a completely restructured tax form.”

Related: Republican Leader Warns of Possible Incoming Dem Tax Hike

The TAS found that one significant issue was a significant decline in over-the-phone help for taxpayers.

IRS staffers answered only 48 percent of consumer calls seeking help with filing issues during the first week of the tax season on January 28.

The average wait time for the calls that did go through was 17 minutes.

“The IRS is entering the filing season inundated with correspondence, phone calls, and inventories of unresolved prior year audits and identity theft cases,” Olson said. “Make no mistake about it, these numbers translate into real harm to real taxpayers. And they represent increased rework for the IRS downstream, at a time when the IRS is already resource-challenged.”

IRS staffers last year answered 86 percent of calls, with an average wait of four minutes.

The report also found that 93 percent of taxpayers who called to arrange installment tax payments couldn’t reach an assistant during the last week in January. The report described the difference as shocking.

The report also explained that the shutdown worsened troubling trends that were already a problem, such as a multi-year plan to update agency systems.

Additionally, the report noted that taxpayers are now having difficulty navigating the IRS system to pay their taxes. Consumers were unable to reach personnel to resolve their issues or even hold employees accountable.

The partial government shutdown furloughed most of the agency’s employees. The Trump administration worked to make refunds available on time and ordered roughly 60 percent of

Source:: LifeZette

      

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