Apr 28, 2008

The IRS Error Rate- 9%- Do you trust them???

The biggest misnomer in taxes: "I am with the IRS and I am here to help you." The IRS tries its best to be a customer service organization but unfortunately it fails miserably. This is due to the fact that the agency is predisposed to enforcement in all areas, including the Taxpayer Advocate's Office (the "TAO" which is touted as being an "independent" area in the IRS to undue agency red tape and hardships.

In fact, the IRS does not hire from the outside for its TAO staff. Hence, it has no external pressure to fix its own errors. A recent study by the IRS of its own error rate shows the IRS phone answer error rate is 9%!! This is down from the numerous other GAO studies of other years (anywhere from 21 to 25%). What is more disturbing is that the IRS blames it on a complex tax code. Also, there is a clear disparity with Customer Satisfaction- which by Practitioners is measured at 85% and for Accounts Management (adjustments to returns) is 68%. The IRS has its own policing of its error rate and customer satisfaction- what the discrepancy? The IRS can determine if it made the error- but customer satisfaction is done by survey (I have been asked to give them!)- something sounds not to accurate here..... Also, independent customer satisfaction of the private debt collection has much higher customer satisfaction than internal IRS employees (maybe because the IRS employees are predisposed to enforcement).

I find all of these contradictions to be preposterous. Having represented clients on both examination and collection issues, the IRS has no push-back on getting the correct answer. They self-perpetuate their culture and have no serious emphasis on getting it "right." This is because no good IRS employee is the employee that does not bring enforcement. This is eveident in the disparity between customer service and accuracy.

Just a perspective in gluing the facts together. If you need perspective on your tax situation and you need a straight answer- you will need to contact a competent tax professional that knows how the IRS operates- or you may become one of the many dissatisfied customers of the IRS if you go it alone.

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