WASHINGTON — National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson today released her 2013 annual report to Congress, urging the Internal Revenue Service to adopt a comprehensive Taxpayer Bill of Rights – a step she said would increase trust in the agency and, more generally, strengthen its ability to serve taxpayers and collect tax. The Advocate also expressed deep concern that the IRS is not adequately funded to serve taxpayers, pointing out that the IRS annually receives more than 100 million telephone calls from taxpayers and that, in fiscal year 2013, the IRS could only answer 61 percent of calls from taxpayers seeking to speak with an IRS customer service representative.
“The year 2013 was a very challenging one for the IRS. Because of sequestration, the IRS’s funding was substantially cut, which translated into a reduction in taxpayer service,” Olson said in releasing the report. “Public trust in its fairness and impartiality was called into question because of reports the IRS subjected certain applicants for tax-exempt status to greater review based on political-sounding names. And because of the 16-day government shutdown, the agency could not complete preparations for the upcoming tax filing season on time, delaying the date on which taxpayers can first file returns and claim refunds.”
Olson continued: “From challenges can come opportunities, and this report presents a ‘21st century vision’ designed to meet taxpayer needs and enhance voluntary tax compliance.”
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- IRS now accepting tax returns — but not always calls
(USA Today, Jan. 31, 2014)USA Today reported that IRS Commissioner John Koskinen launched the filing season for tax year 2013 on Jan. 31, but warned taxpayers, “Phone lines are going to be extremely busy” and frequently have “extensive wait times.” National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson reported in her 2013 Annual Report to Congress that the IRS answered only 61% of customer service calls in FY 2013, and those who got through spent an average of about 18 minutes on hold.
- IRS customer service leaves millions of calls unanswered
(Fox News, Jan. 30, 2014)In light of the current tax filing season, this article highlights one of the most serious problems facing taxpayers today – poor IRS customer service. According to the National Taxpayer Advocate’s 2013 Annual Report to Congress, only 61 percent of people seeking to speak with an IRS customer service representative got through to anybody – leaving nearly 20 million calls unanswered.
- IRS finds customer service taxing, Taxpayer Advocate reports
(Washington Post, Jan. 28, 2014)This article warns taxpayers that the IRS will be answering only “basic” tax questions by phone and at its walk-in sites during this filing season. According to the National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson’s 2013 Annual Report to Congress, lacking IRS customer service is one of the most serious problems facing taxpayers today and is primarily due to IRS budget cuts and an increased workload.