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IRS Telephone Service Declines – Taxpayer Advocate Service


>>>This message is
brought to you by the Taxpayer Advocate Service.
Your voice at the IRS. >>>NINA OLSON:
Hello. I’m Nina Olson, the National
Taxpayer Advocate, with some news you can
use. The Internal Revenue Code requires me to
submit an Annual Report to Congress each year,
identifying at least 20 of the most serious problems
facing taxpayers and to make recommendations to
resolve those problems. Overall, this year’s
report identifies 21 problems and provides
updates on two previously identified issues. The
report recommends dozens of administrative changes,
proposes 11 legislative changes, and analyzes
the 10 tax issues most frequently litigated in
the federal courts. This year, I identified the
IRS’s declining ability to answer telephone calls as
the most serious problem facing taxpayers. Over
the last three years, the number of calls to
IRS toll-free lines has increased by
almost 40 percent, with more taxpayers
wanting to get through to IRS employees to discuss
a wide range of issues. In response to this
increase in call volume, the IRS’s goal for fiscal
year 2010 is to answer only 71 percent of calls
from taxpayers who want to speak with a live assistor
about account questions. In other words, despite
the IRS’s best efforts to improve its service, the
IRS is not able to answer about three of every ten
calls. Those who do get through will have to wait
an average of 12 minutes. This level of
service is unacceptable, and in my report, I
recommend that Congress increase funding for
taxpayer service so the IRS can meet the demand
for assistance from U.S. taxpayers. What can
you do if you can’t get through on the
IRS phone lines? First, don’t give up. Try
the IRS.gov website. It’s pretty good for answers
to tax law questions and allows you to check some
things electronically, like the status of
your refund. Second, try to call back
during low volume times — midmorning or
mid-afternoon. The IRS will tell you the
average wait time, and to make your
wait more tolerable, you should plan to do
other things while you are sitting on hold. Third,
you can go to an IRS walk-in site for help,
if one is close by. But most importantly,
don’t give up, and don’t ignore IRS notices,
because the IRS won’t go away. And of course, if
you have an ongoing problem or if something the IRS
is doing will cause you immediate or long-term
financial harm, you can call the Taxpayer Advocate Service. The
Taxpayer Advocate Service is independent within
the IRS, so our people know the system and can
help you navigate it. We will listen to your
problem, help you understand what
needs to be done to resolve it, and stay with
you every step of the way until the problem is
resolved. We have at least one local taxpayer
advocate in each state, the District of Columbia,
and Puerto Rico. You can call your local advocate,
whose number is in your phone book, or call
our toll-free line, at 1-877-ASK-TAS1 — A-S-K
T-A-S 1. You can also visit our tax
toolkit website at www.taxtoolkit.IRS.gov,
which also links to our Facebook and Twitter
pages. I hope you found this presentation
informative and helpful. Please visit our website
at www.IRS.gov/advocate for additional information
on the Annual Report to Congress and the
Taxpayer Advocate Service. Thank you and
remember, the Taxpayer Advocate Service is
your voice at the IRS.

Robin Kshlerin

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