IRS

Report: The IRS's Customer Service Is As Terrible As You'd Expect

The agency's own performance measures say it's doing fine, but a watchdog's report tells a different story.

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Kris Tripplaar/Sipa USA/Newscom

Improving the Internal Revenue Service's poor customer service should be a "top priority" for the agency's next commissioner, according to an internal IRS watchdog.

Although the IRS's own performance measures indicate it is doing just fine, those measures don't tell the whole story, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson's says in her mid-year report to Congress, which was released on Wednesday. Two other measures, the American Customer Satisfaction Index and the Forrester U.S. Federal Customer Experience Index, reveal "taxpayers are not being well served."

The IRS claims live representatives answered roughly 80 percent of toll-free phone calls from customers during the 2018 filing season. But according to Olson, IRS personnel answered just 29 percent of those calls. Many of the other calls involved an automated system or ended when the customer hung up.

The IRS says 90 percent of customers who called on the toll-free line were satisfied with their experience, but that number is misleading as well. As The Hill reported, the only people surveyed were those who actually spoke to a live representative, meaning the people most likely to be unsatisfied with their customer service experience didn't get the chance to say so.

Olson cites cuts to the IRS's budget as well as "the need to implement several significant new laws" as reasons the agency has been stretched thin. She lauds a bill passed by the House of Representatives in April that she says "would direct the IRS to develop a comprehensive customer service strategy within one year," calling it "a step in the right direction."

Customer service deficiencies aside, Olson says the agency's biggest challenge is implementing the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017. She is confident, however, that the IRS "will deliver what it has been asked to do."

Olson's report was released one day before President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the IRS, Charles Rettig, will appear before the Senate for his confirmation hearing. If confirmed, Rettig will lead the IRS through 2022.

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  1. I never had a problem searching their web site.
    Of course, I use a software program to ‘file’ my taxes, so there are few questions I need to ask of the IRS.
    The only one I really have is “Why wasn’t Lois Lerner fired”. That one is 404 on the web.

  2. “The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is inefficiency”.

    —-Eugene McCarthy

    1. “Profits are the price you pay for efficiency.”

      -sarcasmic

      Since government has no profit motive, it is the least efficient organization in existence.

  3. Note bade four govenmet wourk

  4. My lovely experience with the IRS:

    Last year someone graciously filed a tax return for me. The IRS sent me a letter asking if I filed a return. I sent back the form saying no, but thanks for asking. After that I heard nothing, and knowing coworkers who dealt with this last year I knew that I’d certainly have to file a paper return and possibly more crap, so I called the IRS to find out what the next steps were.

    Me: *Explains the situation* “So I’m pretty sure I have to file a paper return, but do I have to file an affidavit too? Did you even get my response letter? What about a PIN?”
    My Tax Dollars at “Work”(MTDW): “Let me research that and I’ll be back in 5-7 minutes.” (abbr. LRT)
    MTDW: “Yeah, you’ll have to file a paper return. Do you need the address to mail in your return?”
    Me: “No, I can look up the address on my own.”
    MTDW: “..and what was that other thing? An Alpha-David?”
    Me: “Affidavit. Attesting that the return you got didn’t come from me? Do I need to file one?”
    MTDW: (LRT)
    MTDW: “OK, yeah, just file a paper return. Do you need the address to mail it?”
    Me: “No, I don’t need the address. And what about a PIN?”
    MTDW: “Oh, just go on the website and try to get one.”
    Me: “The site says you need proof of ID theft to get one. Does that letter count?”
    MTDW: “Maybe, just try it.”
    Me: “And the affidavit?”
    MTDW: “Oh, no man, you don’t need no Alpha-David. But do you need the address to mail in your return?”
    Me: “No. Thanks.”

    1. (cont.)

      Only to have the whole process nearly repeated 2 months later after the IRS kindly informed me that the government had happily given out my previous return information to a fraudulent and never completed federal student loan application.

      These are the valuable government services that Tony claims forms the basis of civilization. It’s a mystery for the ages why I don’t agree.

      1. Tony’s civilization is controlled by a central committee, so your experience is on par.

  5. It’s hardly surprising that an organization which doesn’t have any customers has bad customer service.

    1. I think what you mean is that unlike Walmart, they can send men with guns to collect payment. So they have no incentive to provide customer service. It’s not like you can refuse to pay for all those government services that you don’t want, don’t use, and don’t need.

  6. Ever notice that when you put the letters for the IRS together it spells “theirs”?

  7. The IRS claims live representatives answered roughly 80 percent of toll-free phone calls from customers during the 2018 filing season. But according to Olson, IRS personnel answered just 29 percent of those calls. Many of the other calls involved an automated system or ended when the customer hung up.

    Reason, Reason, Reason. *sigh*

    Its all about how you *define your metrics*.

    Only 20% of the calls failed to get through to the IRS’ automated phone tree – hence 80% *were answered*. Its not 80% of calls got to a person, its 80% of calls got picked up by the system.

  8. “Customer Service”?
    They don’t have any “customers”; they don’t have anything to sell.

    1. What about all those government services that you don’t want, don’t use, and don’t need? That is what they are selling.

      And you’re gonna pay for it or else.

      1. Reminds me of the birth-control meds now available to me at a low, low price, ’cause Obo!

  9. You know what’s even worse than their “customer service”?
    The fact that they can charge you interest & penalties on amounts you have ALREADY PAID, because FYTW. This happened to me just last year. Next to last installment payment on an old tax bill got returned because I forgot to deposit funds into the account it gets debited from. So they charged me not only an OD fee (which would be reasonable) but also assessed me penalty & interest on the ORIGINAL AMOUNT. Almost $700, just added to my bill out of thin air. Fucking crooks.
    Oh and fuck the “Taxpayer Advocate Service” too. More like “IRS Advocate Service”.

  10. The one time I actually had to call the IRS, I didn’t have an issue. Although after the fact I’m pretty sure the IRS phone flunkey gave me bad advice. Briefly: a while ago, IRS sent me forms for me to start making quarterly tax payments. I called when I got the form, because I was confused, and the IRS guy said that it was a mistake and that I don’t have to do it. But then I researched it a little bit further and, as best as I can figure out anyway, because I had too much in withholding the year before, so I paid “too much” in taxes as a lump sum on tax day, that’s why they sent me the quarterly tax forms. But IRS dude said that it was a mistake, so I ignored the forms, quietly adjusted my withholding allowances, and nothing ever came of it. So, I don’t know. It was then that I realized that they can’t possibly be doing too much in just simple error checking, let alone audits, when it comes to all the tax forms that they get.

    Oh, I also always send in paper forms, never electronic. I figure, sending in an electronic version just makes it that much easier for them to upload it to some database for analysis and audits. So, I won’t help them do their jobs for them. I also do it by hand every time.

    1. Every now and then some intrepid reporter calls the IRS several times to ask several reps the same question. They all give conflicting answers. It’s like cops shouting conflicting orders in the hope that it will give them an excuse to shoot you, only instead they’re looking for an excuse to audit you. That or they’re idiots. Yeah, probably the latter. Or the rules are so complex and conflicting that no one can follow them, giving zealous enforcers a way to always find something done wrong if they look hard enough. Just as the cops can find an excuse to pull you over if they follow you long enough.

  11. The IRS says 90 percent of customers who called on the toll-free line were satisfied with their experience, but … the only people surveyed were those who actually spoke to a live representative

    *and* who agreed to be surveyed, I’ll wager.

  12. Is this supposed to be news? The abysmal service at the IRS has been going on for decades. The more recent, further and steeper decline in service quality has been going on for years.

    1. You mean it isn’t Trump’s fault because he got rid of all the Top.Men. that Obama had hired?

  13. So a department whose budget has been slashed has bad customer service. Thanks, Republicans!

    1. Happy Chandler|6.28.18 @ 12:40AM|#
      “So a department whose budget has been slashed has bad customer service. Thanks, Republicans!”

      So an ignoramus posts idiocy? Thanks, ignoramus!
      Did you get your GED yet?

    2. BTW, you slimy piece of shit, how about a cite to that “slashing”?

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