A sampling of 49 IRS taxpayer assistance centers across the country between January 29 and February 9 this year disclosed the following:
- Of 90 questions involving issues of tax law, 61 (68 percent) were answered incorrectly.
- Service was denied to taxpayers seven times.
- IRS employees were rude or discourteous to taxpayers in four situations.
"The IRS has not yet overcome its inability to provide quality customer service to taxpayers requesting assistance at IRS offices," said Pamela Gardiner, the Treasury Department inspector general for audits. "Taxpayers continue to be denied service or receive inappropriate answers to their tax questions."
John Dalrymple, the IRS person in charge of the walk-in offices, was not surprised by the findings. In his division's own investigation, the IRS agents were found to be providing incorrect advice 50 percent of the time, and 21 percent of customers were turned away without service.
Mr. Dalrymple indicated that the IRS is hiring additional employees to help at the taxpayer walk-in centers, and new manuals are being prepared which should help IRS agents answer questions. The manuals should be available by October, 2002.