Today the National Taxpayer Advocate released her 2014 annual report to Congress and if you’re a taxpayer you have a lot to be concerned with. The National Taxpayer Advocate warned that taxpayers this year are likely to receive the worst levels of taxpayer service from the IRS since at least 2001.
According to the report taxpayers in 2015 should expect:
- The IRS is unlikely to answer even half the telephone calls it receives, and levels of service may average as low as 43%.
- Taxpayers who manage to get through are expected to wait on hold for 30 minutes on average and considerably longer at peak times.
- The IRS will answer far fewer tax-law questions than in past years. During the upcoming filing season, it will not answer any tax-law questions except “basic” ones. After the filing season, it will not answer any tax-law questions at all, leaving the roughly 15 million taxpayers who file later in the year unable to get answers to their questions by calling or visiting IRS offices.
- Tax return preparation assistance has been eliminated.
In the preface to the report the National Taxpayer Advocate emphasized four points:
- “First, the budget environment of the last five years has brought about a devastating erosion of taxpayer service, harming taxpayers individually and collectively;
- “Second, the lack of effective administrative and congressional oversight, in conjunction with the failure to pass taxpayer rights legislation, has eroded taxpayer protections enacted 16 or more years ago;
- “Third, the combined effect of these trends is reshaping U.S. tax administration in ways that are not positive for future tax compliance or for public trust in the fairness of the tax system; and
- “Fourth, this downward slide can be addressed if Congress makes an investment in the IRS and holds it accountable for how it applies that investment.”
The National Taxpayer Advocates report to Congress doesn’t bode well for taxpayers in 2015 and very likely beyond.