IRS to push taxpayers off phones and to the internet

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Tax season is almost here and if you’re looking for help with your taxes, you might be seeing some changes.

An IRS watchdog says the agency is going to be pushing taxpayers to go online instead of calling for help. The IRS‘s in-house watchdog says that could freeze out millions of taxpayers. Or it could mean they’ll have to pay for tax advice.

This annual report to congress says the IRS may soon dramatically cut back service both over the phone and in person to the more than 150 million individual taxpayers and 11 million businesses looking for help.

Right now taxpayers make more than 100 million calls a year to the IRS and more than 5 million visits to the agency’s walk-in help centers. It’s still unclear how much the agency would cut back on these services to taxpayers.

If this happens more people are expected to use software like turbo tax or go to tax preparers for help with filing their taxes. And they’ll then be paying more to get their taxes done.

Besides the possible cutbacks, the new IRS plan would include new online accounts that would get information to taxpayers quickly. But the watchdog says millions of taxpayers don’t use the internet and that millions more are hesitant to share sensitive information online.

The IRS has already scaled back some taxpayer services because of budget cuts. The IRS says the report did not paint an accurate picture and that they’re fully committed to personal service to taxpayers.

And it says taxpayers want new options to interact with the agency and that moving more communications online would free up resources for traditional services.

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