The IRS is Still Broken

On January 15, 2021 Erin M. Collins, The National Taxpayer Advocate, issued her Annual Report to Congress outlining the IRS’s most distressing taxpayer service problems. The 2020 National Taxpayer Advocate Annual Report to Congress has a single overriding theme – to improve taxpayer service, the IRS needs more resources to hire employees and to modernize its antiquated information technology (IT) systems.

This report confirms what I have known for years. The IRS is broken. I’ve written about this in my blog before. I have had many conversations with clients about their inability to contact the IRS regarding the status of the refunds they claimed by filing amended returns. Customer service is obviously not a high priority at the IRS.

During the 2020 tax filing season millions of taxpayers suffered major problems including refund delays due to the COVID-19 processing backlog and fraud detection filters, lack of information about processing backlogs, late notices sent with incorrect payment deadlines, and other taxpayer service issues. The report blames inadequate funding for many, but not all of the customer service problems.

Here is an abbreviated summary of the most serious problems encountered by taxpayers described in the report:
1. Employee recruitment, hiring and retention,
2. Telephone and in-person service,
3. Access to online records,
4. Limited digital communications,
5. Failure to expand digital technology,
6. Antiquated technology,
7. Difficulties reaching the right person to contact for correspondence audits,
8. Assessment of international penalties,
9. Amended returns not processed timely, and
10. Refund delays caused by IRS fraud filters.

The full 304 page report is available at https://www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/reports/2020-annual-report-to-congress/

– Mark S Gleason CPA

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