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Thursday October 28, 2021

Washington News

Washington Hotline

IRS Promises Better Customer Service

At a Washington conference on September 24, IRS Wage and Investment Division Commissioner Kenneth Corbin indicated that the IRS plans to hire 1,000 new phone staff. The new staff will serve as additional phone representatives. Corbin also indicated that he hopes to increase the customer service staff by 40%. Corbin currently supervises over 14,000 IRS customer service representatives.

IRS staff have been inundated this year by taxpayer requests for assistance. There were 199 million calls in the first half of 2021. This is about five times the normal call volume.

Normally, it takes three to four months to train new individuals so they can properly assist taxpayers. Corbin stated, "We do anticipate that you will see better assistance and better service as those assisters and new hires get online."

The Texas Society of CPAs sent a letter to the IRS and noted there are still millions of pieces of unread mail in addition to the backlogged tax returns. It also pointed to a report on IRS service that claimed there was only a 3% answer rate on IRS Form 1040 taxpayer questions.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration reviewed the IRS staffing challenges in a September 7 report. It noted the IRS is 37% short of its goal of hiring 5,473 new personnel to process tax returns. With 2,590 open positions, the lack of staff to process returns has caused a substantial backlog. An estimated 2.6 million returns remain unprocessed due to mathematical errors or questions on the recovery rebate credit.

Over 1.9 million returns are also on hold due to pending questions. These returns have potential identity theft or refund fraud issues. Corbin indicated that the IRS plans to make substantial progress on clearing this backlog.

Published October 1, 2021
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