WASHINGTON – In the filing season that opens Monday, taxpayers will have more access to IRS customer service professionals thanks to recent investments in agency hiring and technology.
“This year there are more IRS employees standing ready, around the country, to help individuals and businesses navigate the 2024 filing season, which is only possible because Congress and the Biden administration have focused on rebuilding the IRS workforce,” said NTEU National President Doreen Greenwald. “NTEU is proud to represent the frontline IRS workers who are dedicated to serving taxpayers during the filing season and year-round.”
The IRS expects more than 128.7 million individual tax returns to be filed by the April 15 deadline.
Using funds provided by the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the IRS has been able to augment the workforce responsible for answering taxpayer questions over the phone and in person, demand for which has increased because of more taxpayers who are dealing with changes to the tax code.
“Although customer service is provided year-round, it is of particular importance in the first few months of the year as taxpayers work to file returns accurately and on time,” Greenwald said. “A smooth, successful filing season depends on every IRS division having the staffing and resources to process those returns and issue refunds quickly.”
The IRS now has twice as many Customer Service Representatives as it did 10 years ago when conservative lawmakers launched a multi-year attack on the agency’s budget that left taxpayers frustrated with unanswered calls, long hold times and backlogs of correspondence. This investment in rebuilding the frontline taxpayer service workforce started immediately following the passage of the IRA and service level improvements are remarkable.
“The additional staffing has raised the level of service in demonstrable ways and NTEU supports continued investments in personnel, training and technology,” Greenwald said.
Inflation Reduction Act funds also have been put to good use by opening more Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs) across the country, where taxpayers can make an appointment and sit down with a qualified IRS employee to review documents in person. Since the law was passed, the IRS has opened or reopened 54 Taxpayer Assistance Centers for a total of 363.
According to the IRS, the number of employees assigned to TACs has increased by 410 since 2022. With the additional staffing and centers, the agency expects to offer 8,000 more hours of in-person assistance than the 2023 filing season. In fiscal year 2023, the IRS had 1.6 million face-to-face contacts with taxpayers.
“By reopening more TACs, the IRS has invested wisely in one of the agency’s most important ways of communicating with taxpayers who are trying their best to meet their tax obligations,” Greenwald said. “Dedicated IRS employees are on duty at TACs in cities and towns across the country, ready to assist members of their communities who may not have reliable internet access or just prefer in-person meetings.”
Finally, the agency has modernized several other customer service tools to assist employees and taxpayers this filing season, such as expanding the call back feature to reduce wait times on the phone; improving the online tool to check refund status; accelerating the transition to paperless processing; and introducing a new pilot of the Direct File service for certain taxpayers to file their returns online directly with the IRS.
NTEU represents employees in 35 federal agencies and offices.