At an American Bar Association meeting last week, IRS Taxpayer Experience Officer, Ken Corbin, told attendees that the IRS hired more than 1,000 new phone assisters over the summer. He also stated that the IRS “expanded the number of agency product lines with customer callback.” However, callers should not expect immediate improvements. Adequate training of new hires on tax law and the IRS system takes, on average, three to four months.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration published a report in May that evaluated the 2021 filing season, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tax return processing. In the report, TIGTA also addressed the level of assistance of IRS toll-free telephone lines. The report states that from the beginning of 2021 to March 5, 2021, taxpayers called the IRS approximately 46.3 million times, but staff only answered around 4.4 million calls.
In addition to hiring more phone assisters, the IRS is exploring alternate methods for taxpayers to communicate with the IRS. The IRS recently launched individual taxpayer accounts, and according to Mr. Corbin the agency is “in the ‘early stages’ of exploring how to create an online account for business taxpayers.” The IRS also plans to hire more employees in underserved areas.
The agency is hopeful that increased staff and new online services will improve taxpayers’ experiences when contacting the IRS.