The data the IRS reports to Congress and the public regarding the level of customer service reflects the experience on only a minority of the agency’s phone lines for that purpose and does not provide a full picture of even those, an IG report has said.
Customer service has been a long-running issue for the IRS due to budget restrictions of recent years that degraded that service; the IRS has undertaken several initiatives, including to drive more inquiries online.
While the IRS tracks multiple performance measures for its telephone services, it formally reports only four to external stakeholders, the report said—one of those being “level of service” which for the 2018 filing season was reported as 80 percent. However “IRS management does not clearly disclose” that the measure includes only the 30 lines of the accounts management component and not the 80 other toll-free lines operated by other components, the report said.
Further, the level of service measure does not account for total taxpayer demand, the cost of providing telephone service, the time it takes taxpayers to talk to a customer service representative, or the level of resources the IRS is able to devote to telephone service, it said.
It said that management agreed with a recommendation to report on service levels on all phone lines and to provide information beyond the level of service measure.