Inflation Reduction Act funding paid dividends for the IRS during the 2023 tax filing season.
The IRS answered nearly 2.4 million more calls from taxpayers during the 2023 tax filing season—from January to the April tax deadline—than in 2022, and reduced the average wait time from 28 minutes to approximately 4 minutes.
In total, the IRS achieved a level of phone service of just over 85% this filing season—a fivefold “significant increase” over the 16% it achieved in 2022, which IRS Acting Chief Human Capital Officer David Aten recently attributed, in part, to increased IRS funding through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Through the legislation, IRS will receive some $80 billion over the next 10 years.
“At IRS, we got a huge cash infusion and we started with the taxpayer,” said Aten, speaking May 9 at the Adobe Government Forum in Washington, D.C.
The agency used IRA funding to hire 5,000 additional call center agents to answer calls from IRS’ toll-free lines, and hired several hundred agents to staff taxpayer assistance centers—or TACs—which provide face-to-face service. In-person service also improved significantly for IRS during the 2023 filing season, with TACs providing service to 523,000 taxpayers, up from 399,000 last year.
“The telephone level of service—if you call IRS, did someone pick up your call—we’re very focused on that,” Aten said.
Long saddled with budget cuts, Aten said the funding infusion from the IRA provides the tax-collecting agency an opportunity to beef up its hiring and continue improving the taxpayer experience.
Testimony provided to the House Ways and Means Committee April 27 by IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel outlines how the IRS intends to use tens of billions in IRA funding to become “a world-class customer service operation where taxpayers can engage with the IRS in a fully digital manner if they choose.” In addition to new hires and a workforce rightsized to meet new demands, IRS intends to unveil modern, secure technologies that reduce complexities inherent in the tax code and are “updated regularly based on taxpayer feedback,” indicating the increased importance IRS places on customer experience.
“The IRS that emerges from this plan will deliver an improved taxpayer experience that mirrors what best-in-class public and private organizations now provide,” Werfel’s testimony states. “Among the improvements, taxpayers and tax professionals will have the ability to interact with the IRS in the way they prefer, whether online, over the phone, or in person. This approach will also help the IRS reach more underserved communities, providing the assistance to taxpayers in the ways that they want and deserve.”