Deteriorating service

Deteriorating service

August 08, 2019 | By Keith Martin in Washington, DC

Anyone home?

Taxpayers got through to the Internal Revenue Service, when calling during the last filing season about compliance issues, only 33% of the time after an average wait of 41 minutes, according to Nina Olson, the outgoing IRS national taxpayer advocate.

This is a growing problem with US government agencies. Years of budget cuts have left some agencies understaffed and unable to field questions about federal programs or laws.

A caller to US Customs headquarters in Washington was warned that the trade remedies section, which fields questions about Customs duties, no longer answers the phone. Customs agents at busy US airports are sometimes bewildered about what tariff rate to apply to goods that returning Americans bring back with them from overseas. The US tariff schedules run 3,892 pages.