IRS customer service is good but needs to be better

By Ken Berry

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) still needs to improve the quality of its customer service, according to the latest report issued by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). TIGTA conducted a new audit of IRS customer service as a follow-up to a previous report. Although the IRS scored high marks for providing helpful and accurate information to the public, TIGTA cited lengthy wait times and scheduling deficiencies as two key problem areas.
 
To prepare the report, TIGTA auditors posed as taxpayers and asked tax-related questions on the toll-free IRS telephone assistance lines, at IRS.gov, and from Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TAC). The auditors said they received accurate responses to tax law questions and were able to accurately prepare tax returns using the various IRS resources, including the Free File Program. Also, contact recordings of tax return preparation assistance provided at TAC throughout the country showed that IRS staffers accurately prepared tax returns.
 
However, the report revealed that taxpayers may experience long wait times at TAC and on the phone. At TAC, the TIGTA auditors waited an average of one hour to receive assistance. In some cases, they were turned away and told to return at another time to obtain services. In addition, TACs do not always allow qualified taxpayers to schedule appointments and do not consistently apply new taxpayer screening guidelines and procedures.
 
"An important part of the IRS's mission is to help taxpayers understand and meet their tax obligations," said J. Russell George, Treasury inspector general for tax administration, in a press release issued by TIGTA. "We urge the IRS to make improvements as we have outlined in order to improve taxpayer service."
 
Specifically, TIGTA recommended in its report that the Wage and Investment Division, reinforce existing controls to ensure TAC managers can better schedule appointments requested by taxpayers who have ongoing, complex tax account problems or taxpayers who have special needs, such as a disability. It also advised the IRS to modify IRS.gov and TAC telephone recordings to notify taxpayers that they may be asked to provide identification and Social Security numbers to receive assistance. This can help speed up the process.
 
Demonstrate your ability to help clients by responding promptly and authoritatively to their inquiries. They may decide to use your services instead of waiting around for the IRS.
 
 
Related articles
 

You may like these other stories...

OECD calls for coordinated fight against corporate tax avoidanceDavid Jolly of the New York Times reported that dozens of countries with the most advanced economies have agreed on principles for concrete action to prevent...
Plan ahead before you buy some shares in a stock mutual fund near yearend, when the fund is about to pay a dividend. It might be better to wait until after the fund goes "ex-dividend," that is, wait until after the...
AgFeed agrees to pay $18 million to settle SEC accounting fraud caseMichael Rapoport of the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that AgFeed Industries Inc. has agreed to pay $18 million to settle US Securities and...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Sep 24
In this jam-packed presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA will give you a crash-course in creating spreadsheet-based dashboards. A dashboard condenses large amounts of data into a compact space, yet enables the end user to easily drill down into details when warranted.
Sep 30
This webcast will include discussions of important issues in SSARS No. 19 and the current status of proposed changes by the Accounting and Review Services Committee in these statements.
Oct 23
Amber Setter will show the value of leadership assessments as tools for individual and organizational leadership development initiatives.
Oct 30
Many Excel users have a love-hate relationship with workbook links. For the uninitiated, workbook links allow you to connect one Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to other spreadsheets, Word documents, databases, and even web pages.