Home » Tax pros: IRS improving, but getting the right answer takes too long

Tax pros: IRS improving, but getting the right answer takes too long

Almost two-thirds of tax professionals who responded to an annual AICPA survey about IRS customer service said it takes over 90 days for the agency to provide a substantive response to correspondence, which is the area where the tax professionals said improvement would help the most.

The survey showed that 63% of respondents said the IRS took over 90 days to provide a substantive response in the 2024 tax season as opposed to a computer-generated letter or acknowledgement letter.

That’s down substantially from 81% in 2022, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but almost double the low of 32% in 2019. The survey has been conducted since 2016.

“So sadly, this is the area where the IRS has shown the least amount of improvement,” said Melanie Lauridsen, vice president–Tax Policy & Advocacy with the AICPA. “Based on member feedback, this is also the area that if the IRS could improve would have the most significant impact to our practices.”

Another major area of discontent is whether customer service representatives answer questions on the Practitioner Priority Service hotline correctly without transferring to another agent or identifying the question as “out of scope,” the survey showed.

Only 5% of respondents said the first agent to pick up the phone always answers questions correctly, and 32% said their questions were answered correctly “most of the time.” Ten percent reported never, 27% said rarely, and 26% said sometimes.

The numbers are similar to the previous two years.

This is “our biggest pain point,” Lauridsen said. “… Even if the IRS picks up the phone, are they giving you answers? Is there a resolution to what you’re calling about? Anybody in tax knows if you’re calling the IRS, it is not because you want to know, ‘Where do I put a charitable deduction on a tax return?’ You’re calling because the IRS is really the only one who can provide an answer.”

The overall impressions from the survey were that satisfaction with IRS services is improving, but inconsistencies and concerns remain, including:

  • The IRS answered calls quickly, but many calls experienced extended waiting times when they were transferred.
  • The quality of service varied from agent to agent, and issues often remained unresolved.
  • The IRS lacks accountability for its mistakes, causing frustration.
  • Employees of the Taxpayer Advocate Service also have a backlog of cases, indicating systemic delays in addressing taxpayer concerns.

Top concerns for the 2025 tax season include the effect of late legislative changes (29% of respondents); IRS processing delays (27%); political distractions affecting IRS funding and administration (22%); and lack of clarity/guidance from the IRS in technical areas (17%).

“The big takeaway from this is that, yes, the IRS has shown improvement. We appreciate them. The trend is in the right direction,” Lauridsen said. “However, it’s a long way to go for our members to get the resolution and the service that they need from the IRS.”

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