As tax season starts, U.S. Treasury emphasizes IRS customer service over audits

By David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Internal Revenue Service kicks off the 2023 income tax filing season on Monday armed with 5,000 new customer service

representatives to slash call waiting times as the Biden administration implements $80 billion in new IRS funding. The new hires and technology improvements to more

efficiently process paper tax returns and documents represent an early emphasis on improving services, according to U.S. Treasury officials. Such efforts are taking

precedence over increasing the number of audits as Republicans in Congress prepare to demand a scaling-back of the new funding provided by President Joe Biden's signature climate,

health and tax bill, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told reporters that the 5,000 new customer service hires will be trained

by Feb. 20, when call volume from taxpayers typically increases. He said the goal for the tax agency was to halve the average hold time for callers to 15 minutes, and for

85% of callers to reach a human operator, up from 15% last year. Other improvements include fully staffing the 361 IRS taxpayer service centers to triple the number of

Americans that receive in-person help with their taxes, as well as creating new online portals to allow taxpayers to upload documents rather than sending them by

mail.