IRS Dragging its Feet on the Phone

Despite attempts to provide improved accuracy and response time among those answering the telephones at the IRS, this spring's callers are still met with busy signals and wrong information.

A test performed by the government's own watchdog agency, the General Accounting Office, showed that on 368 test calls made to the IRS, 37 percent of the calls resulting in an inability to reach a real person, and a more alarming 47 percent of the calls that did go through produced wrong information from the IRS agents answering the telephone.

The 47 percent error rate in providing information over the phone occurred in spite of the fact that the questions asked of IRS agents were drawn from the IRS's own list of frequently asked questions.

The Service's call routing mechanism, which uses a series of recorded information to enable callers to be connected with a person most likely to be able to answer the question has experienced some software design failures.

IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti acknowledged that there is room for improvement in the IRS's telephone answering services.

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