Who do you think many people call when they have questions regarding income taxes? Often, they turn to the Internal Revenue Service for guidance by calling the 1-800 telephone number. This past week, the IRS has announced that taxpayers can expect a reduction in the assistance offered. Primarily, they will have less revenue agents available to answer the calls and will only answer basic questions. The agents will also direct callers to the IRS website for answers. So, for instance, if you have a question about whether you can claim your child as a dependent, you will not get an answer from the agent but will be directed to the page in the instructions regarding dependents. In addition, you can expect wait times to increase just to speak to an agent (who probably will not answer your question).
Do you want some numbers? According to an article at cnbc.com, in 2004 the IRS answered 9 out of 10 questions with an average wait time of 3 minutes. In 2013, the IRS answered only 61% of the calls placed with an average wait time of 18 minutes. And that is not even taking into account if they agent then was able to answer the question. Only 61% of the calls made it to an agent. The rest simply gave up. I personally called once and was put on hold for 121 minutes and that was on the Tax Preparer Hotline.
If you do need assistance, the IRS website is the place to go to get answers. The IRS has improved many things on their website and basically all IRS forms, publications etc are all available. In addition, they now have an app for both Android and iPad/iPhone users to give you information as well. And as always, give me a call if you need assistance.
IRS SCAM: As filing season gets going, so does the phishing attempts using the IRS name. The IRS will not contact you via telephone or email to help you get a larger refund, question about your tax return etc. if you receive such an email, you should forward it to the IRS for investigation and never ever ever (I cannot put enough EVERS on that) click on the links in the email. After forwarding to the IRS at firstname.lastname@example.org, you should delete the original email and the email you just sent to the IRS.