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Saturday March 17, 2018

Washington News

Washington Hotline

IRS Reports Improved Phone Services

At a March hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, IRS Deputy Commissioner John Dalrymple noted, "Taxpayer service at the IRS has been improving."

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) reminded Dalrymple that in the 2015 tax season, phone support was quite limited. Only 38% of the incoming calls were answered by IRS staff. Even IRS Commissioner John Koskinen called this result "abysmal."

In 2017, the IRS is reporting a much more successful program. The IRS has received 2.5 million calls. There is an average wait time of 7.1 minutes and 82% of the calls have been answered by the IRS.

Dalrymple was also asked about the filing process. He reported, "So far, the 2017 filing season has gone smoothly in terms of tax return processing and the operation of our information technology system." By February 24, the IRS received 52 million tax returns. It issued refunds to 41 million taxpayers with an amount of $127 billion. The average refund was over $3,000.

Dalrymple observed that IRS funding cutbacks have led to a backlog of taxpayer correspondence cases. Because more IRS staff are answering phones, there are fewer available to work on these cases. Over 1 million correspondence cases are over 45 days old. Dalrymple indicated that the IRS is attempting to get many of these cases resolved, even with their reduced staff. These correspondence cases may involve identity theft, various types of taxpayer notices and amended returns.

Editor's Note: The IRS is moving forward with a fairly smooth filing season. By March 3, the IRS had issued about 92% of the refunds as of this same date last year. The IRS points out that there are quite a few taxpayers who are claiming the Added Child Tax Credit or Earned Income Tax Credit. Because these refunds started the last week of February, many taxpayers have delayed their filings.

Published March 10, 2017
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