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IRS sos

The IRS's phone service in 2021 was 'the worst it has ever been,' watchdog says

The Internal Revenue Service is "in crisis," a new government watchdog report alleges, and American taxpayers are paying the ever-frustrating price.

And thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, years of budget cuts, a declining workforce, and a slew of new responsibilities, the IRS even managed to make 2021 "the most challenging year ever for taxpayers," said the National Taxpayer Advocate in the report, pieces of which were highlighted by The Washington Post.

"During 2021, tens of millions of taxpayers were forced to wait extraordinarily long periods of time for the IRS to process their tax returns, issue their refunds, and address their correspondence," reads the document submitted to Congress by the national taxpayer advocate Erin M. Collins. "The IRS is in crisis."

In addition to a spike in frustration-led web traffic and a deep backlog of returns, the watchdog found that the IRS "response rate to taxpayer phone calls plummeted to 11 percent" last year, writes the Post, down from 29 percent the year before the pandemic. What's more, an increasing number of calls and a strained workforce combined to make the IRS's phone service in 2021 "the worst it has ever been," the report found. Notably, the agency received 282 million calls in 2021, versus 100 million in 2019.

Investigate more of the watchdog's findings at The Washington Post.