IRS Offices Expand Hours Amid Chaotic Tax Season
The move comes as the IRS struggles to get through a massive backlog.
In an effort to offer better service to frustrated taxpayers, the heavily backlogged Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will now have available walk-in hours at dozens of Taxpayer Assistance Centers across the country on certain Saturdays.
These centers, which offer face-to-face tax-related services, are generally not open on weekends. But to address growing concerns among taxpayers who have had to deal with long delays in rectifying their tax issues, the beleaguered agency announced that more than thirty locations will offer face-to-face availability on the second Saturdays in February, March, April, and May. The hours will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
According to the IRS, “people can … ask about reconciling advance Child Tax Credit payments, receive help resolving a tax problem, a tax bill or an IRS audit.”
However, “if assistance from IRS employees specializing in these services is not available, the individual will receive a referral for these services. IRS staff will schedule appointments for a later date for deaf or hard of hearing individuals who need sign language interpreter services.”
In addition, individuals will have access to foreign language interpreters if they need them.
“Being open on select Saturdays is offered for people to get the help they need when they need it,” Ken Corbin, IRS Wage and Investment Division Commissioner and Taxpayer Experience Officer, said in a statement.
“We know that many taxpayers work during the week or have other obligations that make it difficult to get away to take care of their taxes during our routine business hours. We’re here to help, and people don’t need an appointment during these special Saturday hours,” he continued.
The agency also noted that taxpayers need to bring the photo identification, their Social Security card, and any IRS letters or notices they’ve received. It is also a good idea to have bank account information on hand, as it could be needed to receive payments by direct deposit.
New Taxpayer Experience Office
The IRS is taking other steps to improve its customer service as well. It recently unveiled a new Taxpayer Experience Office that will focus on “all aspects of taxpayer transactions” and work closely with the Taxpayer Advocate Service.
Due to the creation of this office, taxpayers are expected to see near-term boosts to customer callbacks, expanded payment options, secure two-way messaging, and multilingual services.
“As the IRS continues taking immediate steps this filing season including adding more employees to address the significant challenges facing a resource-constrained IRS, it’s critical that we work going forward to equip the IRS to be a 21st century resource for Americans,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement. “The formal establishment of this office will help unify and expand efforts across the IRS to improve service to taxpayers.”
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.