Hold that line


The number of taxpayer phone calls answered by the IRS dropped significantly during the 2015 tax season from the previous year, and call wait times were up, according to an interim report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) (TIGTA Rep't No. 2015-40-032). TIGTA found that the number of calls in the IRS's toll-free assistance queue that were answered fell to 38.5%, compared with 74.7% in the previous tax season. The IRS answered 4.21 million calls this tax season (through March 7), 30% fewer than in 2014 and a little more than half as many as in 2012. (TIGTA also noted that the IRS now offers more internet-based taxpayer self-help resources than before, with nearly 200 million visits to IRS.gov through March 7 of the 2015 filing season.) TIGTA also found that the average wait time for answered taxpayer assistance calls was 24.6 minutes. In 2014, the average wait time was 11.7 minutes.

The Service's practitioner priority hotline in fiscal 2014 answered 70.4% of calls, with an average wait of 27.4 minutes, according to the executive summary of the 2014 Annual Report to Congress by IRS National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson ("Taxpayer Rights Assessment: The Right to Quality Service"). No figures for the hotline were yet available for 2015; Olson had warned early in the year that wait times could average more than 52 minutes (see "Filing Season Complications Loom, IRS Commissioner Tells AICPA").

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