San Francisco Chronicle

Agency moves to improve service


The Biden administra­tion is aiming to significan­tly improve customer service at the IRS as the 2023 tax season begins Monday, a pivotal moment for an agency at the center of a political fight over $80 billion in additional funding it was awarded by Congress last year.

As the filing season begins, the IRS is racing to prepare 5,000 recently hired agents to answer the telephones and respond to questions from taxpayers. It is also rolling out new automated systems and staffing up its brick-andmortar taxpayer assistance centers.

The upgrades are intended to highlight the initial impact of the money it received through last year’s Inflation Reduction Act legislatio­n and allay fears fanned by Republican­s that the funds will be used to ramp up audits on middle-class Americans and small businesses.

“These improvemen­ts showcase how we are modernizin­g both technology and customer service to bring the IRS into the 21st century,” Wally Adeyemo, the deputy Treasury secretary, said during a briefing with reporters.

The money comes as the IRS has struggled to perform its most basic responsibi­lities. At the end of 2022, the agency still had a backlog of 9 million tax returns that needed to be processed. Only 13% of 173 million calls reached an IRS representa­tive last year, and the average hold time was 29 minutes. Treasury officials say that the IRS is trying to reduce the time that callers spend on hold with the agency to 15 minutes.

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