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Issue 40706

800 Numbers

Issue Statement: 

Investigate why the IRS only lists a single 800 number for individual taxpayers to call on its website (www.irs.gov), 1-800-829-1040. Our understanding is that other 800 numbers are only published to taxpayers through IRS notices and other limited distribution channels. We suggest that additional 800 numbers be added to the “individuals” help section of irs.gov.

 

Goal Statement:

To increase customer satisfaction and decrease their call time by displaying the IRS’ top 5 dialed/transferred 800 numbers on the “individuals” help section of irs.gov.

TAP RECOMMENDATION

1. Wider distribution of toll-free phone numbers that provide faster response to taxpayer issues.

2. Utilizing www.irs.gov as the main source of communication of these numbers, which already exists.

3. Potentially exploring other low-cost ways of communicating the availability of these numbers (e.g., printed materials, social media), again with the goal of relieving pressure on the 1040 line and providing better service to taxpayers.

IRS Action:TAP reviewing IRS response

1. Disagree – Our Accounts Management function limits the broad posting of their telephone numbers because the call menus are designed to efficiently guide customers to the resource (Customer Service Representatives and/or Automated Services) best able to handle a specific issue. A broader posting of telephone numbers that are not designed to bring customers to menus geared to their issues would lead to poorer service for individuals rather than increased customer satisfaction. The 800-829-1040 number takes the customer directly into the IRS Main Menu which is primarily designed to route individual taxpayers (non-business filers with common issues) to the resources they need. Our telephone numbers are used for specific programs and, while many of our numbers can get the customer to the right resource, it is preferable to have the customer travel the most direct route to the specialized resource. Without this strategy, many customers would find themselves in situations where they reach an agent after waiting in queue and upon describing their issue, find that they must be transferred or hang up and call back to the correct number for their issue. Both situations are a waste of time for the taxpayer and a costly use of skilled IRS resources.

While our service is highly budget-driven, Level of Service (measure that Accounts Management uses to gauge its product lines) has been relatively high in recent years. This is largely because of our strategy to channel callers to the specific product line that is best able to serve the customer, reducing secondary transfers and call-backs. Whenever an IRS telephone number is made public, taxpayers will quickly use the number to reach the service. Numbers must be carefully publicized through a specific program or letter because history shows us that phone numbers get shared broadly by callers who think they might find a faster way of speaking to a representative. This behavior only degrades the service the number was specifically placed in service to serve.

2. Agree – IRS.gov continues to remain the main resource for listing of telephone numbers segmented by the umbrella programs they cover. Several years ago, the IRS restructured the IRS.gov web site, improving the usability of the web site to locate tax related topics, forms/publications, filing returns, making payments, and providing taxpayer assistance through on-line tools, as well as resources for telephone numbers and local assistance.

3. Disagree – The IRS actively looks at new and different methods of communicating it’s services. However, printing materials to publicize additional “800” numbers would increase IRS costs and would be redundant. The agency already provides a wealth of online tools, resources, telephone and local assistance. Tax publications now provide taxpayers with the appropriate telephone numbers to call to resolve their inquiry.

The IRS is currently using social media to direct customers to IRS.gov, where taxpayers can find answers to most types of questions without having to call the service. Using social media to broadcast additional “800” numbers could increase the number of unnecessary call attempts to resolve initial inquiries. The increased telephone demand would degrade overall service.

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current report

2020 TAP Annual Report

The 2020 TAP Annual Report highlights our key recommendations to improve IRS customer service and summarizes our key accomplishments and activities, including the 237 recommendations submitted to the IRS in 2020.

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