TIGTA Seal graphic

Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

Press Release

September 30, 2010
TIGTA - 2010-40-108
Contact: Karen Kraushaar
(202) 622-6500

The IRS Could Improve Toll-Free Telephone Assistance For Hearing and Speech-Impaired Taxpayers

WASHINGTON - Although the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) exceeded its overall toll-free telephone assistance performance measurement goals for the 2010 Filing Season, it could improve the assistance it provides to hearing and speech-impaired taxpayers, according to a report publicly released today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

The IRS provides a toll-free telephone line to serve hearing and speech-impaired taxpayers who require Text Tele-typewriter and Telecommunications Device (TTY/TDD) service. The TTY/TTD device has a keyboard that allows people to type their telephone conversations and read the reply on a display screen.

TIGTA performed an audit to evaluate both the IRS's customer service toll-free telephone access during the 2010 Filing Season and the access and service it provided to hearing and speech-impaired taxpayers. TIGTA found that the IRS exceeded its overall performance measurement goals by 2.3 percent. However, the Level of Service for the TTY/TDD toll-free telephone line for the 2010 Filing Season was just 8.8 percent, meaning that only 8.8 percent of calls placed using the TTY/TTD successfully reached an IRS assistor. The total dialed attempts for the TTY/TDD product line during the 2010 Filing Season were more than 350,000; however, IRS assistors answered only 339 of those calls.

"Our report found that far too few hearing and speech-impaired taxpayers successfully reached an IRS assistor," said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. "The IRS must do a better job of ensuring that all Americans have equal access to its services," he said.

TIGTA made four recommendations to the IRS in its report. The IRS agreed with three of those recommendations and partially agreed with the fourth.

To review the report, including the scope and methodology, go to: http//:www.treas.gov/tigta/auditreports/2010reports/201040108fr.pdf.