Dealing with the IRS is always frustrating, but things are likely to get much worse in the coming tax season. John Koskinen, the IRS Commissioner, recently announced that taxpayers could expect their dealings with the IRS customer service to be worse than ever before. “With the budget the Senate and House are proposing, service will get worse if you can imagine that.” And that was only one part of the bad news he had to deliver.
According to Koskinen, the reason for the decrease in customer service stems from a lack of money. Like so many other federal programs, the IRS has had its budget cut, forcing it to make some unpleasant changes to the customer service department. The explanation for the budget cuts stems from the fact that the amount of taxes collected from tax payers has sank to its lowest point in 13 years. In the past 5 years, the amount of money the IRS has collected fell by a staggering $10.5 billion. At this point, the budget cuts have forced the IRS to eliminate 15,000 employees from its roster.
Koskinen isn’t pleased by the budget cuts. His biggest complaint is that by forcing him to slash the number of people employed by the IRS, the federal government is costing itself even more money.
Fortunately, the Commissioner is not willing to sit idly by and accept the budget cuts without a fight. He really is working to turn things around. He’s currently leading a campaign to urge Congress to make some changes that would reinstate his budget, which in turn would improve the IRS’s ability to collect the taxes owed and provide better customer service to the American people. Koskinen doesn’t think he’ll be able to restore the 15,000 lost jobs, but he does hope to convince the federal government to approve funding that would make it possible for him to train seasonal employees for the tax season. These temporary employees would work mostly in the customer service program. Sadly, none of these changes are likely to be approved before the upcoming tax season.
It’s difficult to imagine how the IRS’s customer service could possibly be worse than it was last filing season. At that point, the IRS reported that more it was only able to answer about 40% of the incoming calls. Individuals who actually went to their local IRS office were forced to stand in long lines and only received minimal help.
With customer service at an all time low, it’s a bad time to owe the IRS money. It’s estimated that 80 to 95 percent of the people who claim contractors such as freelance writers, babysitters, and house cleaners on their taxes have made a costly error that the IRS could see as fraudulent and grounds for mounting an investigation.
If you are one of the ones singled out, you need to contact a tax attorney right away. Don’t even think about handling the problem without a good tax attorney to defend you. The odds are good that the tax attorney will look at the paperwork, identify the mistake, and square everything away with the IRS before the matter goes to court or your assets get seized.