It's no secret that the Internal Revenue Service isn't exactly known for providing a high level of service to taxpayers who are in need of assistance. Annually the agency receives an estimated 115 million calls, letters and in-person visits at walk-in sites. The high volume of public inquiries is no doubt due to the complex and confusing nature of U.S. tax code and the ever-changing tax rules and regulations imposed by the IRS.
By far, the IRS receives the most inquiries from and has the most contact with members of the public than any other federal agency. Yet a recent report by National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson provides a candid review of the agency's many shortcomings when it comes to providing tax assistance and services to U.S. taxpayers and winning their respect and trust.
In recent years, the agency has been the subject of much debate and contempt from not only the U.S. public, but also members of Congress. Feelings of mistrust among conservative politicians only grew and intensified after the IRS admitted it "subjected Tea Party-affiliated groups to additional scrutiny based solely on the name and stated goals of the organization."
In response, the agency was hit with deep budget cuts which has led to layoffs and reduced spending on employee training. These considerable reductions in workforce, services and training comes at a time when the IRS is receiving and processing a record number of tax returns and inquiries from confused, frustrated and increasingly cynical taxpayers.
In an effort to restore public confidence in the IRS, Olson calls upon members of Congress to work with the IRS to "ensure that taxpayer needs are met." This includes increasing the agency's budget so additional employees can be hired and trained to provide the answers and assistance taxpayers desperately need in order to remain tax-compliant.
In our next blog post, we'll continue to review Ms.Olson's findings and discuss her recommendations to Congress regarding the passage of an official Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
To speak with an attorney about your tax concerns:
Source: IRS, "National Taxpayer Advocate Delivers Annual Report to Congress; Focuses on Taxpayer Service and Taxpayer Bill of Rights," Jan. 14, 2015