The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) gave itself a well-deserved pat on the back for its performance in the 2023 Tax Season.
The struggles of the IRS in the last few years are well known. Underfunded, but tasked with carrying out pandemic-era relief programs across the country, the agency dropped further behind in processing returns and delivering decent customer service. For taxpayers of high wealth, the decade-long struggles of the cash-strapped agency has meant fewer—but still highly effective—tax audits.
In a press release, the U.S. Treasury gave high marks to the agency for the just-passed tax season, courtesy of the Inflation Reduction Act, which was enacted in 2022. The Treasury gave a shout-out to the IRS in a number of areas, including:
- Overall, the IRS achieved an 87 percent “Level of Service,” which exceeded the goal of U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen’s aim of 85 percent.
- Given the boost in budget, the IRS was able to hire 5,000 new customer service representatives who responded to more than 6.5 million calls so far this year. This is 2.4 million more calls where taxpayers were able to speak with a human to ask questions and obtain information. At the same time, phone wait times were cut to four minutes from 27 minutes clocked in the 2022 tax season (yes, you read that right—almost a half an hour wait to speak with a representative—if the phone call was answered). The Treasury notes the 87 percent Service level is “more than a fivefold increase” from tax season 2022. The press release does not identify the 2022 Service level.
- The IRS is taking a step forward in time by undertaking an agency-wide digitation of technology and services. At present, the IRS enters figures from paper returns into its computers manually—as in human data entry. Again, thanks to money for technology and people power, the IRS had scanned 470,000,940 forms by mid-April of this year. In the first quarter of this year, the IRS scanned 80 times more paper tax returns than in 2022.
- In-person help from the IRS jumped this filing season. Hundreds of the new hires are now in place at Taxpayer Assistance Centers, with 92 percent of the IRS offices open by early April. The IRS was able to serve more than 428,000 people from tax centers in Wyoming, New York, Tennessee, New Jersey, and many more.
The IRS continues to hire, streamline, digitize, and create electronic service options for taxpayers of all economic levels. A good report card from the U.S. Treasury is a positive sign that the agency assigned to collect money to fund the running of the U.S. is in better shape than it has been in years.
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