Why the IRS Hung Up on 8 Million Taxpayers

How the top U.S. tax official explained the egregious lapses in IRS service during the 2015 filing season.

If you called the IRS for help this tax season, only to be disconnected before you actually talked to anyone, you are not alone.

An overloaded IRS phone system hung up on more than 8 million taxpayers this tax season, The Associated Press reports.

In fact, of all the phone calls to the IRS this filing season, just 40 percent were able to get through to a person. And even then, many were forced to wait on hold for 30 minutes or more, the AP said.

This is a significant increase from 2014, when just 360,000 taxpayers were disconnected.

A staff report by Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee accused the IRS of moving “$134 million in user fees that had been spent on customer service last year to other areas this year,” the AP said.

According to Consumerist, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen issued a prepared statement to the congressional committee this week, in which he explained that IRS budget cuts left the agency “unable to provide adequate levels of taxpayer service.” He added that during this filing season, “taxpayers did not get the customer service experience they deserve.”

Koskinen said that funding for the IRS has been slashed by $1.2 billion in the last five years, which led to personnel layoffs. He said the result was “unacceptably low” staffing of customer service this filing season. Koskinen testified:

Since 75 percent of the IRS budget is personnel, the agency has been absorbing the budget cuts mainly by reducing our workforce. As a result, we ended FY 2014 with more than 13,000 fewer permanent full-time employees compared with 2010. We expect to lose another 3,000 or more through attrition by the end of this fiscal year.

Koskinen said the IRS was also forced to limit its hiring of extra seasonal workers during tax season because of a lack of funds.

In his statement, Koskinen also noted that the number of phone calls to the IRS that were related to the Affordable Care Act was lower than expected.

“We believe this may be a result of both the amount of information taxpayers received prior to the filing season and the availability of ACA information online during the filing season,” he added.

What was your experience like filing your taxes this year? Did you have any issues with the IRS’ customer service (or lack thereof)? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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