Grade Your Government: IRS Part 2

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

EAST TEXAS, TX (KLTV) - Our Grade Your Government series continues with your scores for the Internal Revenue Service. In Grade Your Government: IRS Part 1, we heard mostly criticism, with several of you saying you get different answers to the same question, complaints of long waits, and difficulty reaching an actual person to help.

But, there were also some positive remarks on the local offices in East Texas.

Remember, we are doing this in light of a proposal that would offer government-run health insurance. The goal is to see what that public healthcare option may be like.

On our report card, you get to score everything about a government agency. From the personal treatment you receive to whether you feel your tax dollars are being spent wisely. All on a scale of "A" as excellent through "F" as failing.

The biggest complaints we received: incompetence and lack of workers.

Maureen Parkhill with Liberty Tax Services says that is because the Internal Revenue Service is such a huge beaurocracy.

"They do not have enough people working for them and there's so many different departments," said Parkhill. "You know 'A' doesn't know what 'B' is doing."

Dick Warren certainly knows. He says he has gotten three different answers to the same question.

"I'm not even going to give them a grade," said Warren. "If they were taking a course, [I would say,] 'Eh, get out of my class.'"

IRS spokeswoman Lea Crusberg, says that's a common complaint and explains why.

"Taxpayers come in, they may be asking different questions," said Crusberg. "If they leave something out or they add something in, it could give you a completely different answer to the question."

What about the complaints we received about the "user-friendly" IRS website, and why you can't always find what you're looking for?

"It takes time to write the rules and regulations for those to be posted to the website but meets the needs of almost all who use it," she said.

On the IRS's overall grade, Warren was a little more lenient.

"[I'd give them] about a 'C-,'" he said. "I think it could be a whole lot more efficient just like any government entity."

And, he is not alone.

"[I would give them] about a 'C.'" said Albert Schofield.

"[They get] probably a 'C-,'" said Jeff Blackstone. "You know they're doing the best they can. I guess the people who are doing the work."

But, we did get one 'excellent!'

"I'd give them an 'A,'" said Lawana Ballard.

"[I would give them] a 'B,'" said Jeff Reeves.

"Locally, I would give them a 'B+,'" said Parkhill. "Nationally, probably a 'C.' [Because it] takes so long. I mean to sit on hold for 45 minutes just to speak to a real person listening to the same recording, which is a song now I should remember 'cause I heard it for so many hours last year."

"Do you feel like there's a shortage of workers?" I asked the IRS spokesperson.

"I don't," Crusberg replied. "I...we do a good job. As you mentioned, we have a lot of complicated issues the tax code itself is complicated...we would encourage people to go to and look up the information if they can, and call the toll free number or visit to get face to face assistance."

So what do you think the government needs to do to simplify and improve the IRS?

"I think we need to do away with all these paperwork taxes," answered Blackstone. "I think we should just go to one flat tax it'd make it a lot easier. All these different scales and levels of taxing, it's just ridiculous, especially if you're a business owner."

"I know there's a lot of people in America that aren't paying taxes and that does hurt the IRS and our government but at the same time, I think they should be more lenient on the people that are paying their taxes and not come down maybe as hard on them," said Jeff Reeves.

As far as calling the toll free number for help goes, the IRS spokeswoman I talked to recommends calling in the early morning or late evening for quicker assistance.

Now, on to the grades. From our in-person interviews and on-line questionnaire's the average score for the IRS is a "C."

Tax Tips:
Liberty Tax Service suggests if you're a W-2 employee, look at that, see how much is being withheld from your paychecks to determine your tax bracket. You may need your employer to withhold more starting now so next year you can get a refund. Also, Liberty Tax says there are write-offs you may not think about - like driving to the doctor's office. For those who travel out of town on doctor's visits, that could help so you can talk to a professional about what is available.

©2009 KLTV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.