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Understaffed IRS Poses Challenges Ahead of Tax Season

 Posted on March 05, 2015 in Taxation Law

Even as the year's annual tax season gets underway, staffing shortages at the Internal Revenue Service promise to make this year's season even more challenging than usual.

As the deadline for tax filing looms, taxpayers across the country are finding that their calls to the Internal Revenue Service offices are barely being answered. Just about 4 out of 10 calls are getting answered. At centers across the country, taxpayers are waiting for hours to get assistance from IRS officers.

The staffing shortages are linked to a reduction in the budget of the IRS. Congress has reduced the budget of the IRS by $1.2 billion since 2010 alone. That has led to significant staffing shortages at the Internal Revenue Service, as the agency has been forced to downsize as a result.

That has meant fewer staff members to man the telephone calls, and assist taxpayers. Agency employees are dealing with their own problems. The staffing shortages have meant that several clerical staff, including secretaries, have been given the ax. That means that regular employees are also being given clerical duties to perform, in addition to taxpayer assistance responsibilities. Motivations and morale levels are low at the agency.

These budgeting shortfalls come at a time when the Internal Revenue Service is under more pressure than ever before. The Affordable Care Act has meant more responsibility for the Internal Revenue Service, while an increasing incidence of identity theft and tax-related crimes across the country has also placed additional strain on personnel at the agency.

The problem only promises to get worse. Approximately 25% of the IRS workforce is currently eligible to retire. By the year 2019, officials believe that as much as 40% of the workforce will officially retire, leading to more staffing gaps.

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