Shutdown caused service issues. Thats the conclusion of the IRS watchdog who overseas many aspects of the IRS. Disruptions from last months partial government shutdown caused a “shocking” deterioration in the IRS telephone help for taxpayers in the first week of the filing season, the agency watchdog said in a report released. In the week of January 28th, the official start of the tax season, Internal Revenue Service staffers answered only 48 percent of calls seeking help in filing returns, with an average wait time of 17 minutes, the report from the office of the National Taxpayer said. that compares with 86 percent of calls answered, and an average wait time of 4 minutes, at the same time last year. The conclusion, shutdown caused service issues.
The difference between the two years, “for levels of service and wait times for phone lines–is shocking” the advocate said. “These numbers translate into real harm to real taxpayers. The IRS will be facing tough decisions in light of the shutdown’s report. The report flagged other problems at an agency that was already straining, even before the shutdown, from the burden of a complex new tax law, inadequate funding and antiquated computer systems. The IRS workforce faced a huge backlog, including 5 million pieces of mail to process–when it returned to full strength January 28th after the 35 day partial shutdown, which had furloughed most of its employees.
During the shutdown, the Trump administration made money available to pay hundreds of billions of dollars in refunds and ordered nearly 60 percent of the IRS workforce back to work without pay to handle tax returns and questions. Yet fewer than half the recalled employees had returned to their jobs by the time the shutdown had ended, according to congressional and government aides. The disruption raised the possibility of delayed processing of returns and refunds–an annual check that about three-quarters of U.S. taxpayers typically count on. Lower income households, especially, depend on refunds as their biggest cash infusion of the year.