WASHINGTON, Jan 23 (Reuters) - The U. S. Internal Revenue Service kicked off the 2023 income tax filing season on Monday with 5,000 new customer service representatives, marking an early U.S. Treasury emphasis on making the filing and processing of returns more efficient as it rolls out $80 billion in new funding.
The new hires will help to slash call waiting times and shorten the processing time for paper tax returns and documents as part of a first stage that will be followed later by the ramping up of auditing of tax returns to curb evasion, according to Treasury officials.
The customer service changes are being implemented as Republicans in Congress are seeking to cut tens of billions of dollars in IRS funding, which was enacted in President Joe Biden's 2022 signature climate, health and tax law, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
U. S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told reporters that the 5,000 new customer service hires will be fully trained by Feb. 20, when call volume from taxpayers typically increases.
He said the goal for the tax agency was to halve the average hold time for callers to 15 minutes, and for 85% of callers to reach a human operator, up from 15% last year.
Other improvements include fully staffing the 361 IRS taxpayer service centers to triple the number of Americans that receive in-person help with their taxes, as well as creating new online portals to allow taxpayers to upload documents rather than sending them by mail.
Although the tax agency has greatly reduced a massive backlog of paper returns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it still had some 3.7 million unprocessed returns as of Dec. 2, more than three times its stated goal of shrinking the backlog to pre-pandemic levels. It is introducing new technology to more accurately scan millions of paper returns into digital documents that can be processed as if they were filed electronically, Adeyemo said.... (Read more)
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