Tax Administration:

Accessibility, Timeliness, and Accuracy of IRS' Telephone Assistance Program

GGD-89-30: Published: Feb 2, 1989. Publicly Released: Feb 2, 1989.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the accessibility, timeliness, and accuracy of the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) Telephone Assistance Program during the 1988 filing season.

GAO anonymously placed 1,908 calls to IRS telephone assistance sites nationwide and found that: (1) it was able to access the IRS toll-free telephone system more easily than in the previous year; (2) it was able to reach IRS within five call attempts 93 percent of the time, compared with 88 percent in 1987; (3) IRS placed calls on hold 4 percent less often than in 1987, and the average waiting time decreased 29 percent; (4) IRS assistors incorrectly responded to test questions 36 percent of the time, primarily when they failed to obtain adequate information or the question involved recent tax law changes; (5) the accuracy rate for questions that required specific information was 61 percent; and (6) the accuracy rate for questions relating to recent tax law changes was 59 percent.

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