Miserable Tax Season Review

Posted on Aug 3, 2015 in San Diego Lawyer, Tax Season | Comments Off on Miserable Tax Season Review

Miserable Tax Season Review

 

“For the majority of taxpayers who filed their returns and did not require IRS assistance, the filing season was generally successful.  For the segment of taxpayers who required help from the IRS, the filing season was by far the worst in memory.” – Nina Olson, Tax Payer Advocate

After all that we read about, experienced and warned you all about during Tax Season 2015, we shouldn’t be surprised at the recent National Taxpayer Advocate’s dismal review of the 2015 filing season. We heard about the upcoming “miserable tax” season and warned you all in our post “Warning: “Miserable” 2015 Tax Season is Here“and then I told you my terrible story about the IRS not answering my calls in our March 27th post “IRS Cannot Take Your Call”thumb-down-smiley

Reading through the recent review of the 2015 tax season I didn’t know whether or laugh or cry. The percentage of phone calls answered by the IRS is pathetic and the wait times were terrible.

Here’s how the IRS customer service measured up:

Individual returns processed: 126.1 million (125.6 in 2014)

Refunds Issued: 91.8 million (94.8 in 2014)

Average Refund Amount: $2711 ($2686 last year)

Customer Service Phone Calls Answered Overall: 37 percent of phone calls received  (71% in 2014)

Average Wait Time: 23 min (14 min in 2014)

TAS Line Phone Calls Answered: 39 percent

(The TAS phone line serves as the IRS’s “safety net” for taxpayers who are experiencing a financial or systemic hardship as a result of IRS action or inaction.)

Percent of phone calls answered from taxpayers who were notified their return had been blocked on suspicion of identity theft: 17 percent, average hold time 28 minutes.

In three consecutive weeks during the filing season, the IRS answered fewer than 10 percent of these calls.

Calls Answered on the Practitioner Priority Service line: 45 percent, average hold time 45 minutes

And finally…my favorite (since I got “hung up on” a number of times this tax season!)

Number of  “courtesy disconnects” – 8.8 million  (544,000 in 2014)

The term “courtesy disconnect” is used when the IRS essentially hangs up on a taxpayer because its switchboard is overloaded and cannot handle additional calls.

Olson wrote that this type of (I’d say LACK of) customer service may lead tax payers to lose trust in the system “For a tax system that relies on voluntary self-assessment by its taxpayers, none of this bodes well,” she wrote.  “In fact, there is a real risk that the inability of taxpayers to obtain assistance from the government, and their consequent frustration, will lead to less voluntary compliance and more enforced compliance.”

Read the full report on IRS.org

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