GAO Reports IRS Customer Service Improved

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Sep 11, 2018

The Government Accountability Office said that customer service at the IRS has improved over the past few years, which is an important development, considering that the agency will soon need to take significant steps to implement the new provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. 

"For the third year in a row, IRS improved its telephone service by answering 80 percent of calls seeking live assistance and reducing wait times to about 5 minutes, as of the end of the 2018 filing season,"said the GAO report. "This compares to 37.5 percent of calls answered with an average wait time of about 23 minutes during the 2015 filing season." 

The report still faulted the IRS regarding correspondence, however. It said that the IRS was late responding to about 37 percent of correspondence as of the end of the 2018 filing season, compared to about 26 percent at the same time in 2017.

Overall, though, the report found that, "despite multiple challenges including mid-filing season changes to tax law and a computer system failure, IRS met its processing targets for individual tax returns." 

The GAO also praised the IRS's preparations for implementing the new tax law. It noted that the service has established a centralized office to coordinate implementation across offices and divisions, the better to handle the broad scope and complexity of the changes. The GAO pointed out that this coordination did not initially include the Human Capital Office, which is responsible for maintaining the workforce, but representatives now regularly attend coordination meetings in response to GAO feedback. 

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