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Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

Press Release


September 18, 2012
TIGTA - TIGTA - 2012-45
Contact: David Barnes
(202) 622-3062
David.barnes@tigta.treas.gov
TIGTACommunications@tigta.treas.gov

Improved Toll-Free Telephone Services Should Make It Easier for Taxpayers to Obtain Assistance During a Correspondence Audit, TIGTA Finds

WASHINGTON – Taxpayers involved in correspondence audits will derive numerous benefits from a new telephone system now in use by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), according to a new study publicly released today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

Under the old telephone system, the IRS reported finding that 70 percent of the calls to examiners were answered by voicemail, and 39 percent of these calls were not promptly returned. Moreover, 62 percent of the taxpayers were repeat callers. Also, the customer satisfaction survey results suggested that the IRS needs to make it easier to get through to the IRS on the telephone for assistance.

The new telephone system, called the Intelligent Contact Management System, is a toll-free call routing system that the Small Business/Self-Employed (SB/SE) Division incorporated into its correspondence audit process to make it more responsive and less burdensome for taxpayers. For example, improvements include replacement of a geographically based call routing system with a nationwide skill-based routing network that distributes calls to the next available IRS telephone assistor, making it easier for taxpayers to reach examiners and receive needed information on their first call.

However, the SB/SE Division is not consistently returning telephone calls to taxpayers and needs to take action to increase the likelihood of achieving the expected benefits of the new telephone system. TIGTA identified 20 calls during which the taxpayer either requested a return call or was promised one. For 14 of those calls, there was no evidence that the call was returned.

“The benefits offered by this system represent a substantial improvement from the prior capabilities that the old toll-free call system provided to taxpayers involved in a correspondence audit,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “Taxpayer service would improve further if IRS employees in the SB/SE Division would return their calls.”

TIGTA initiated its review at the suggestion of the IRS to determine the progress that the SB/SE Division is making to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Intelligent Contact Management System. TIGTA made two recommendations for improving the way taxpayer calls are handled: the IRS agreed with both recommendations and stated it has completed implementation of the necessary corrective actions to address the problems TIGTA identified.

Read the report.

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Note: The difference between the date TIGTA issues an audit report to the Internal Revenue Service and the date TIGTA publicly releases the report is due to TIGTA's internal review process to ensure that public release is in compliance with Federal confidentiality laws.

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