Over the past decade, the IRS’s budget was reduced by more than 15 percent in inflation-adjusted terms, resulting in reduced staffing levels not seen since the 1970s. As staffing declined, so did taxpayer service levels. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 provided the IRS with much-needed funding and presented an excellent opportunity to improve taxpayer service. With this new funding, the IRS will need to recruit, hire, and train new employees on a historic scale as the IRS has never attempted to hire beyond its current capacities. It must do this while also keeping pace with the rate of attrition and accounting for the estimated 50,000 IRS employees expected to be lost through attrition within the next six years. To hire thousands of new employees over the next decade and replace employees who have retired or otherwise left, the IRS must increase its current hiring capacity to meet this demand and focus on the training of its employees. The IRS must also prioritize recruitment and counter recruitment challenges it faces in a competitive job market. The agency must work to revamp its training quality and overall efficiency. New IRS employees cannot provide an appropriate level of service on day one; they need significant resources and time to receive quality training, which can often mean both classroom-type and on-the-job training over an extended period. A workforce equipped with next-generation skills needs advanced training throughout their careers, which requires investment and dedicated budgetary resources. For years, the IRS has been developing and implementing a comprehensive training strategy as described in the IRS’s Taxpayer First Act Report to Congress. However, the IRS Human Capital Office (HCO) did not have dedicated budgetary resources needed to launch this vision. Without the appropriate reallocation of funding and a long-term investment in training strategy, HCO will continue to struggle. Although TAS is encouraged by the incremental progress recently in the areas of hiring, recruitment, and training, the IRS has much more work to do to increase HCO hiring capacity, improve recruitment strategies, and start implementation of its robust training program.
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