IRS chief apologizes in advance for clogged telephone lines

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Posted: Sunday, February 2, 2014 12:00 am | Updated: 2:04 pm, Thu Jun 5, 2014.

The Internal Revenue Service won’t be able to answer millions of phone calls from taxpayers this year, Commissioner John Koskinen said Friday.

The IRS said it answered 61 percent of calls that came in to customer service lines last year. Koskinen, who became commissioner in December, said he hoped the agency could reach 70 percent this year.

“I apologize for the public that we can’t do more,” Koskinen said on the first day of the U.S. tax filing season, which lasts until April 15. “I personally just find it unacceptable.”

Koskinen said the IRS was encouraging taxpayers to use the agency’s website — www.irs.gov — to look up basic tax information and check the status of their refunds.

Koskinen and the IRS have been lobbying Congress for more funding and haven’t succeeded.

The agency’s budget for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 is $11.3 billion, little changed from the prior year. That was a midway between a cut of more than $2 billion sought by House Republicans and an increase of more than $1 billion sought by President Barack Obama.

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