IRS Warning of “Miserable” Tax Season for Consumers

IRS commissioner John Koskinen warns that 2015 is shaping up to be a “miserable” filing season for taxpayers. The commissioner noted that nearly half of those trying to get through to the IRS by phone will be unsuccessful during the upcoming year. In 2014, the phone contact success rate was just 72%, which would already be considered substandard if this were a private sector business. The commissioner also said that the average hold time for those fortunate enough to get through to the IRS will be 34 minutes. 2015 Tax Season

There are several factors driving the problems at the IRS. They include:

  • Tighter Budgets: It is unclear how much funding the IRS will receive for the upcoming fiscal year. The GOP-controlled House has voted to cut their 2015 budget by nearly $350 million while the Democrat-controlled Senate proposed an increase of nearly $240 million. Even if the IRS receives the funding level proposed by the Senate, they will still be operating at 7% below their 2010 budget. And in light of recent elections that handed control of the Senate to the GOP, the outlook for future budget increases does not look any better for the agency.
  • Compliance with New Laws: The Affordable Care Act and Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act were passed by Congress in recent years. Many of the provisions from these two laws are set to go into effect this coming year, creating significantly more work for the agency. Examples include the shared responsibility payment and premium tax credit in the Affordable Care Act and foreign account withholding requirement for Americans with accounts overseas that have an average annual balance of at least $10,000 U.S. dollars.
  • Tax Extender Uncertainty: More than 50 so-called ‘tax extenders’ have yet to be approved by Congress and are supposed to be taken up during the upcoming lame duck session. However, the commissioner has said that if action is not taken on these laws soon, it could delay not only the start of the 2015 filing season, but the processing of refunds as well.

Bottom line: it will almost certainly be very difficult to receive the answers to your tax questions by contacting the IRS during the coming year. If you need help preparing your 2014 tax return, you can receive qualified guidance from a local accounting firm.

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