Grade Your Government: IRS Part 1

By Courtney Lane - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - We all pay taxes, it's how our government works, but are you getting the most for your money? Our look at how government agencies grade, in your eyes, continues with the Internal Revenue Service.

Now, we know the proposed health care reform bill could cost American taxpayers $849-billion.

The IRS is the largest collection agency in the world. And, the money they collect from you funds our government. But, good luck trying to talk to one of those government workers in person.

"I walked in the door, pulled a number, [and] wait[ed]," said Henry Brown.

Since you can't talk to anyone directly on the phone at a local level, you have to visit your nearest office for assistance, which could take a while. According to a notice, there is only one person assisting folks through December 14th. And, we found it's not just office visits that are slow going.

Maureen Parkhill with Liberty Tax Service knows all too well how time-consuming it can be to help clients.

"The 800 number is not the best way to go if you're in a hurry for an answer," said Parkhill. "You cannot be in a hurry."

"I don't think they really care much about your time," said Jeff Blackstone. "I think they're on their time and you just have to deal with it, we don't have a choice."

And, let's face it, filing can be frustrating.

"That little fine print can get you in trouble," said Albert Schofield.

"Get it out of lawyer ease where you can actually read what they're trying to tell you," said Dick Warren.

Which is why government workers at the IRS must be specially trained. And, Parkhill says they have a pretty good track record with her clients at the Tyler office.

"They've been quick to respond," said Parkhill. "They've given the information that they needed so I feel like the local office is doing a very good job."

However, she and others gave very low grades on workers' knowledge - especially through those 800 numbers and on a national level.

"You could get two different answers to the same question," said Parkhill.

"The lady I dealt with today was very competent," said Blackstone. "Sometimes they'll give you the wrong answer."

"I've called different offices to get a specific answer and, without fail, I got at least three different answers from three different people," said Warren. "What kind of grade would you give their customer service and knowledge of regulations? I wouldn't even venture to go there."

Thanks to the internet, most taxpayers find self-sufficiency is the best route to take when it comes to dealing with the agency.

But, Jeff Blackstone says even that is not up to speed. He had to come and wait at the IRS office just to get a form he could not download online.

"I was trying to get set up to do everything online and it's going to take, well, it says 10 to 15 days on the internet, but she just informed me today it's probably more like 30 to 45 days so it'll probably be next year before I get all this set up," said Blackstone.

Not only will we reveal everyone's grades in "Grade Your Government: IRS Part 2" but we'll show you our attempt at getting answers and a response from the Internal Revenue Service.

To grade the IRS yourself, click here.

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