This past Wednesday, IRS Commissioner “Honest John” Koskinen appeared before a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, where he apparently told the truth about how the IRS deals with customers (i.e. schlubs like you and me). Based on his revelations, we’ve put together this handy list of tips you ought to keep in mind if you have to go through the torture of contacting the IRS.
1. Don’t even bother calling. Koskinen said more than 8 million customers were hung up on by the IRS high tech phone system.
2. If you ignore tip number one and insist on calling the IRS, don’t expect to talk to an actual person, as only 40 percent of those who called got to speak to a live human.
3. Whether or not you talk to a machine or a live human, start with very low expectations. Koskinen admits “Customer service, both on the phone and in person has been much far worse than anyone would want,”
4. Don’t expect a “smidgen” of customer service at an IRS office either. After waiting and waiting, you’ll hear excuses like, “It’s simply a matter of not having enough people to answer the phones and provide service at our walk-in sites as a result of cuts to our budget.”
Only 110,000 walk-in customers received answers to tax law questions, which was 685,000 fewer than the 795,000 handled a decade earlier. And the IRS has abandoned helping elderly, disabled and low-income people prepare their returns at those sites. They will almost certainly blame all the non-service on “budget cuts” and the added burden of having to manage Obamacare. What they’ll conveniently “forget” to mention is the money they diverted to pay for:
– Millions of dollars in bonuses and giving tens of thousands of paid vacation hours to employees with recently substantiated conduct issues and disciplinary actions, including bonuses to 1,100 employees owing back taxes;
– Spending over $23 million and more than 500,000 working hours devoted to union activity, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars for union travel expenses;
– Spending billions of dollars every year on information technology systems – roughly twenty percent of its entire budget.
Maybe they need to take some of those IRS employees who were busy targeting conservative and pro-Israel groups and individuals and have them answer the phones and handle walk-ins. Just sayin’…
5. And finally, be sure to pay your taxes — unless of course you’re Al Sharpton, Hollywood celebrities, assorted politicians, or an actual federal employee. According to USA Today, last year it was reported that federal employees owe a total of $3.3 billion in back taxes to the federal government-which is to say YOU, the American tax payer. Thirty-six employees in the Executive Office of the President are delinquent on their taxes, for a rate of 2.06 percent. In case you are an IRS employee who owes back taxes DONT WORRY-YOU WILL STILL GET THAT BONUS! More than 1,100 employees who failed to pay their taxes received discretionary awards of more than $1 million in cash bonuses and more than 10,000 hours in extra paid vacation.
At least five employees received performance awards after being disciplined for intentionally under-reporting their tax liabilities for multiples years, paying taxes late and under-reporting income.
Like many companies and government agencies, the IRS sweetens the deal for its employees by giving bonuses based on performance. But at the IRS, breaking the federal tax laws you were hired to enforce and running afoul of other agency rules aren’t considered relevant to performance-based awards.
Good luck with that call!