Internal Revenue Service officials are quick to take your money, but don’t expect help filing tax returns when you need it.
Taxpayers calling the IRS for filing help likely waited long periods before receiving assistance – that is, if their call was even answered, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) WatchBlog post.
“If you tried to get through to the IRS on the phone with questions during the last filing season, chances are you weren’t able to,” the post said. “And if you did, you likely had to wait—average wait times were more than 30 minutes. These wait times have been steadily growing in recent years.”
Wait times, in fact, have doubled since 2011, and only around 38 percent of calls were answered in 2015, GAO data shows.
GAO did boast IRS improvements for 2016. Now, just less than half of all calls were answered with 26-minute wait times. That’s about enough time to cook an oven-ready pizza and begin eating before talking with a tax expert.
“Both improvements are because the IRS has devoted additional staff to answering calls, as well as offered overtime to its staff after receiving additional funding,” the post said. “The IRS received nearly $300 million in additional funding for fiscal year 2016 to help combat some of its problems.”
Also, “the IRS paid an estimated $3.1 billion in fraudulent tax refunds in 2014,” and “prevented or recovered $22.5 billion,” the post said. “As with all fraud, though, the full extent of the problem is unknown.”
Such fraud increased by 430 percent between 2011 to 2015, according to GAO.
“We believe that if the IRS implemented all of our past and new recommendations, the agency would be in a better position to improve its phone service, combat ID theft refund fraud and keep your data secure,” the post said.
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