IRS hires 4,000 customer service workers ahead of tax season

WASHINGTON (AP) — The IRS said Thursday it has hired an additional 4,000 customer service representatives who are being trained to answer taxpayer questions during the 2023 tax filing season.

It's part of the new hiring made possible when congressional Democrats gave the IRS an $80 billion boost through the flagship climate and health care law signed this summer. It is meant to help rebuild an agency that hadn’t seen additional funding in decades.

The IRS is still working out how it will spend the extra $80 billion, but has emphasized that resources will be focused on improving customer service and scrutiny of high-income earners. The newest hires are being trained in taxpayer rights and technical account management issues.

Last tax season, the IRS answered so few taxpayer phone calls that a bipartisan group of lawmakers wrote to agency officials to complain that calls were only being answered 9% of the time.

Treasury and IRS officials have said they want to put an end to poor customer service.

“We have been unable to provide the help that IRS employees want to give and that the nation’s taxpayers deserve,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a Thursday statement, “but help is on the way for taxpayers.”

“As the newly hired employees are trained and move online in 2023, we will have more assistors on the phone than any time in recent history,” Rettig said.

Ahead of the midterm elections, GOP candidates across the country have said they want to strip the IRS of its new funding, saying that the Democratic legislation will bankroll an army of auditors that will harass middle-class taxpayers rather than help them.

Those claims are generally alarmist and misleading. IRS management says its goal is to add another 1,000 customer service representatives by the end of the year, bringing total new hires in this area to 5,000.