Washington D.C. – The dramatic increase in taxpayer assistance during the 2023 tax filing season clearly demonstrates that IRS employees, when provided additional support and resources, can improve the overall filing experience for American taxpayers.
The early data show that taxpayer service levels improved and more returns were processed on time, a testament to the hard work of frontline IRS workers around the country and the start of a major rebuilding effort at the agency.
“NTEU commends the IRS workforce for a job well done, proving that new investments in the agency are having an immediate and positive impact on taxpayers,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon.
Treasury Department and IRS officials have reported that more customer phone calls have been answered, wait times are down, opportunities for in-person assistance have increased and 99.5 percent of returns have already been processed. The tax filing season ends Tuesday.
Using the first few dollars provided by the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the IRS has started to rebuild its corps of customer service representatives by ramping up hiring and training so there are more people available to answer calls from taxpayers needing assistance. From 2010 to 2020, the number of customer service representatives dropped from 21,000 to less than 13,000 because of repeated cuts to the agency budget. The agency has added 5,000 new hires and is continuing to bring on additional customer service representatives.
These additional hires have helped IRS reduce the inventory of original individual returns and achieve a live assistance level of service averaging more than 84 percent, up from about 16 percent during the previous filing season. Together, customer service representatives have answered 2.7 million more calls this season compared to the same point last year, and wait times have dropped from 27 minutes to about 4 minutes, according to the IRS.
So far in fiscal year 2023, the IRS has spent $838 million – or about 1 percent of the overall $80 billion in Inflation Reduction Act funding – on taxpayer services, and the results are significant.
Responding to the Biden administration’s intense focus on customer service, the agency has hired more employees to reopen and fully staff additional Taxpayer Assistance Centers across the country, where taxpayers who prefer to meet with an IRS employee in person can make an appointment. The IRS hired nearly 700 additional employees to staff the TACs this filing season, and has provided face-to-face service to more than 428,000 taxpayers, compared with 321,000 during the same period last year.
“There are now signs that the IRS, after years of neglect, is rebounding,” Reardon said. “The rebuilding has just begun, but this initial progress validates the decision by Congress to reinvest in the agency that is responsible for collecting the revenue that runs our country. Those who want to slash funding for the IRS should reconsider in light of the progress the agency has already made on behalf of individual taxpayers, businesses, tax practitioners and anyone who believes the tax code should be administered fully and fairly for all.”
NTEU represents employees in 34 federal agencies and offices.