The IRS was hit with a double dose of challenges in 2019—the major interruption caused by the 35-day government shutdown that kept tens of thousands of IRS employees from doing their jobs, and the need to implement a sweeping new tax law. Yet by some measures, the IRS still delivered services to taxpayers faster than it did five years ago, when the agency was dealing with a crisis caused by substantial budget cuts.
In fact, in 2019, customers reported high satisfaction levels with the support they received from representatives on the agency’s primary customer service line—even though it can be difficult to reach a representative during the busy tax season.
The IRS also produced or updated several easy-to-use digital tools in the last year to help taxpayers make payments, decide how much money to withhold from their paychecks and complete other tasks. However, some tools require individuals to verify their identity—and many taxpayers struggle to fulfill the agency’s strict authentication requirements, in place to protect the security of sensitive taxpayer information.
These complications were exacerbated by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, which presented an additional set of challenges. Initial difficulties with teleworking hindered IRS employees’ ability to support customers, correspond by mail, and process paper and some electronic tax returns.
Individuals, businesses, nonprofits and charities that must file taxes, as well as tax professionals who help others prepare their taxes.
Key services for individual taxpayers
- Tax-return processing.
- Collection and processing of tax payments.
- Processing of tax refunds and assistance with inquiries about refund status.
- Access to tax records.
- Answers to taxpayer questions about how to fulfill tax responsibilities.
Data at a Glance
customer satisfaction rate among callers who reached a representative on the primary customer service lines in fiscal 2019
customer satisfaction score for electronic tax filing in 2019
decrease in customers who were able to get through to an agent on the primary customer service lines in fiscal 2019, though this number has improved from five years ago