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Issue 40902

TELEPHONE APPOINTMENT CONFIRMATION TO TAXPAYERS

Issue Statement:

The IRS website states that taxpayers who need in-person help from an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) must call to schedule an appointment. All TACs provide service by appointment. The ability to work with taxpayers face-to-face via appointments is an essential service that the IRS provides when a tax issue cannot be resolved online or by phone.

The IRS recommends that taxpayers consider the self-service options available on IRS.gov before calling for an appointment. Many questions can be resolved online without taxpayers having to travel to a TAC. Publication 5136, IRS Services Guide, includes additional information about where to find help.

Current publications instruct taxpayers on how to schedule an appointment with an IRS employee. Taxpayers who provide an email address will receive a confirmation email within 24 hours of scheduling with a reminder notification that will be sent 48 hours prior to the appointment time. Despite these email confirmations and reminders, IRS representatives encounter many late arrivals, no-shows, and taxpayers arriving without the required documentation.

Goal Statement:

To improve the taxpayer’s customer service and reduce the “no-shows or late arrival rate for scheduled appointments at TAC offices by providing additional appointment confirmation options to the taxpayer

TAP RECOMMENDATION

In order to minimize missed scheduled meetings with taxpayers, the following is recommended:

1. When a taxpayer has ready access to e-mail, continue to send an e-mail reminder

2. At the taxpayer’s preference, they could also receive

  • A recorded telephone reminder message
  • A text reminder message

3. For each option above, a confirmation of attendance should be made

  • Either by return e-mail, selecting an option on the recorded telephone message or a return text message
  • Or a request to reschedule the appointment

4. The message should include the logistics of the appointment such as

  • Time, date
  • Location
  • Security access
  • Documents required of the taxpayer
IRS Action:TAP reviewing IRS response

IRS Initial Response

1. Thank you for researching and analyzing ways to reduce no shows or late appointment arrivals. The IRS appreciates your research and recommendations to benefit both the IRS and the taxpayer.

The IRS will continue to send email confirmations to those taxpayers that provide an email address.

2. The IRS has explored the option of sending telephone and text messages and determined these options are not feasible to adopt at this time.

The appointment system cannot send text messages based solely on the taxpayer’s phone number. The system employs the ServiceNow email service. In order to send a text message using ServiceNow, the IRS would be required to secure the taxpayer’s cellphone provider. This could negatively impact the appointment line service as well as the performance of the appointment system.

3. The IRS has explored the option of taxpayer confirmations. Receipt of a taxpayer confirmation does not prohibit the taxpayer from being a no-show for their appointment. The IRS could not cancel an appointment because we did not receive a confirmation.

In addition, due to cybersecurity and the protection of the taxpayer’s personally identifiable information (such as names, addresses and identification numbers), the IRS cannot allow taxpayers to respond to emails and/or texts. The IRS has determined at this time, this option has no benefit.

4. The IRS currently provides an email confirmation to taxpayers that provide an email address. The email does provide the time, date and location of the scheduled appointment.

The IRS does not provide information on security to enter a building with a TAC, since each location is different and would be difficult to document and maintain security features of every building in the appointment system.

The IRS is investigating the ability to provide a “what to bring” list (contained in the appointment scheduling system) on the emails we send taxpayers. Currently, the assistor provides this information verbally when the appointment is made.

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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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