In January, the National Taxpayer Advocate warned that Americans would face the worst service from the Internal Revenue Service in five years. With the filing deadline rapidly approaching, that prediction has come true: Just four in 10 callers can get through on the IRS toll-free helpline. And the agency has 5,000 fewer agents than four years ago, so billions in revenue is going uncollected. The IRS blames Republicans on Capitol Hill for cutting the agency’s budget by more than a billion dollars over the past five years. Critics of the IRS say that mismanagement and wasteful spending are the causes. We discuss what’s behind declining service at the IRS and what can be done about it.


  • Nina Olson National Taxpayer Advocate, Internal Revenue Service.
  • Lisa Rein National reporter for The Washington Post, covering the federal workforce.
  • Merritt Wingate Certified Public Accountant, MorganWingate & Co.

Listen: IRS Says It's "Unable To Handle Your Call"

“Due to extremely high call volume in the topic you requested, we are unable to handle your call at this time.” That’s the message thousands of people are receiving from an IRS that is understaffed and underfunded as tax season comes to a close.

Q&A: Get Help With Your Taxes

Your Tax Questions Answered - The Diane Rehm Show

If you've felt like you've had a hard time with the IRS this year, you aren't alone. The agency has 5,000 fewer agents than four years ago.

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