WASHINGTON – In a Senate Finance Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan raised concerns that she has heard from Granite Staters regarding poor customer service at the IRS.
To watch Senator Hassan’s questioning click here.
Long Wait Times for IRS Customer Service
The Senator questioned Erin Collins, head of an independent organization within the IRS called the Taxpayer Advocate Service, about how the IRS could improve phone service for taxpayers.
“Granite Staters have been reaching out to my office in record numbers for help because they’ve been unable to reach a real person at the IRS,” Senator Hassan said. “And according to your Annual Report to Congress… taxpayers who tried to call the IRS last year were only able to speak to a customer service representative 11 percent of the time - often after sitting on hold. To address this, you’ve recommended that the IRS implement an automated callback system, among other technologies.”
Collins told the Senator that the callback feature has been implemented for some of the IRS’s customer service lines, but not all, and emphasized the need for additional staff in order to meet the needs of taxpayers.
Nonpayment and Penalty Notices
Senator Hassan highlighted a common issue that Granite Staters have raised with her regarding nonpayment and penalty notices that they have received from the IRS.
“My office has heard from constituents who paid their taxes and saw that the IRS cashed their checks, but then my constituents received nonpayment and penalty notices from the IRS because the agency had not officially processed the tax returns,” Senator Hassan said.
In response, Jan Lewis, Chair of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, suggested that the IRS suspend all automatic notices until the backlog of tax returns has been addressed. Senator Hassan is pushing the IRS to address this unprecedented backlog, and noted in a recent letter to the IRS that many taxpayers still have not received their tax refunds for 2019 or 2020.
Senator Hassan raised the need to modernize IT systems at the IRS in order to improve services for taxpayers.
“I’ve been working to modernize outdated IT systems at federal agencies all across the board,” Senator Hassan said. “They cost most more to maintain than newer systems and they deliver worse services to taxpayers – worst of both worlds. Many of the IRS’s IT systems are severely outdated - such as its tax processing mainframe, which is 62 years old.”
Senator Hassan is chair of the Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight subcommittee, and through that role the Senator has held multiple hearings focused on modernizing government IT systems to help strengthen the federal government’s cybersecurity and improve government service for taxpayers.