December 03, 2021

Wyden, Colleagues Urge IRS to Keep Phone Lines Open, Improve Telephone Services for American Taxpayers

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is joining with colleagues from both parties to urge the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), to keep phone lines open while clearing the unprecedented backlog of unprocessed returns and to take concrete steps to instead improve telephone services for taxpayers in Oregon and nationwide.

“We are concerned to hear reports that the National Taxpayer Advocate held discussions with IRS officials about a temporary shutdown of IRS phone lines in order to clear the backlog of 5.9 million unprocessed individual returns and 2.7 million amended returns. We write to you today to urge that the Internal Revenue Service keep its telephone lines open while clearing the unprecedented backlog of unprocessed returns,” said Wyden along with Senators Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Bill Cassidy, R-La. and Ben Cardin, D-Md., in a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.

The senators noted that the IRS’ ongoing problem of answering taxpayer phone calls in a timely manner has only worsened over the last couple of years. During the 2021 filing season, the IRS only answered 9% of incoming taxpayer phone calls, a continued downward trend since 2018.

The senators added, “We understand the incredible strain that the IRS faces, especially given the challenges with understaffing and the additional workload brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic…However, we believe that temporarily closing telephone lines is an ineffective, ultimately, and counterproductive method of addressing the systemic issues that face your organization. We request that you take all actions necessary to improve customer service outcomes at the IRS and commit to keeping your telephone lines open in an effort to provide America’s taxpayers with the high quality of service that they rightfully expect.” 

Find a copy of the full letter HERE.