The IRS is quicker to answer the phone on this Tax Day

WASHINGTON — This Tax Day, the IRS is promoting the customer service improvements the agency has made since receiving tens of billions in new funding dollars through the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act.

From reducing wait times on the phone to digitizing more documents and improving the Where’s My Refund tool to display more account information in plain language, agency leadership is trying to draw attention to what efforts have been made to rehabilitate the agency’s image as an outdated and maligned tax collector.

The promotion is also intended in part to quickly normalize a more efficient and effective IRS before Republicans in Congress threaten another round of cuts to the agency. So time is of the essence for both taxpayers and the agency this season.

“This filing season, the IRS has built on past successes and achieved new milestones,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on a call with reporters on Friday. “It shows that if the country has the resources it needs, it will provide taxpayers with the service they deserve.”

“Making tax season a reality is a huge undertaking,” said IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel. “We greatly appreciate people in many different areas working long hours to serve taxpayers as the tax deadline approaches.”

For most people, April 15 is the last day to file tax returns or file an extension. The IRS says it has received more than 100 million tax returns, and expects tens of millions more to be filed.

The IRS says call wait times have been reduced to three minutes this tax season, compared to the average of 28 minutes in 2022. That has saved taxpayers 1.4 million hours of wait time and the agency has answered 3 million additional calls compared to the same time. frame. Also, an updated ‘Where’s My Refund’ tool, which provides more specific information about taxpayer refunds in simple language, was rolled out online to 31 million views.

Werfel told The Associated Press earlier this tax season that the agency’s agenda is to “deliver better service to all Americans so we can relieve stress and frustration and make the tax filing process easier — and to increase scrutiny of complex filers where there is a risk of tax evasion.”

“When we do that,” Werfel said, “we not only make the tax system work better because it makes it easier and more streamlined to meet your tax obligations. But we’re also raising more money for the U.S. Treasury and lowering our budget deficit. The tax authorities are a good investment.”

Major new initiatives in recent months include an aggressive pursuit of wealthy earners who don’t pay their full tax obligations, such as people who improperly deduct personal flights on corporate jets and those who don’t file returns at all.

This is also the first tax season that the IRS has rolled out a program called Direct File, the government’s free electronic tax filing system available to taxpayers in 12 states who have simple W-2 forms and claim a standard deduction.

If Direct File is successful and scaled up for use by the general public, the program could dramatically change how Americans file their taxes and how much money they spend on filing them. That is, if the agency can see the program through its development despite threats to its funding.

The Inflation Reduction Act initially provided $80 billion for the IRS.

However, Republicans in the House of Representatives have successfully recovered some of the money. They built a $1.4 billion cut for the IRS into the debt ceiling and austerity package passed by Congress last summer. A separate deal would require another $20 billion from the IRS over the next two years, which could be diverted to other non-defense programs.

Government watchdogs warn that cuts to IRS funding will reduce the amount of revenue the U.S. collects.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported in February that withdrawing $5 billion from the IRS would reduce revenues by $5.2 billion over the next decade and increase the cumulative deficit by $0.2 billion. A $20 billion repeal would reduce revenues by $44 billion, and a $35 billion repeal would reduce revenues by $89 billion and increase the deficit by $54 billion.


See all of the AP’s tax season coverage at