WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will announce on Thursday an intensification of the Internal Revenue Service after securing $79 billion in financial support over 10 years from legislation signed into law by President Joe Biden last month.
Yellen will make the announcement during remarks on a visit to the IRS facility in New Carrollton, Maryland.
The IRS has been dumped by budget cuts in recent years, hobbled by radically outdated technology. Taxpayers need to respond to inquiries by post or try a telephone line that has long wait times.
“The Inflation Reduction Act finally provides the funding to turn the IRS into a 21st century agency,” Yellen will say, according to excerpts from her notes. While not all improvements will be made overnight, taxpayers can expect to feel real differences during the upcoming recording season.”
The funding was included in the Democrats’ $430 billion inflation-reduction bill that Biden signed into law last month and celebrated at a major event at the White House’s South Lawn on Tuesday.
Republicans have accused Biden of funding an army of IRS agents to harass American taxpayers, but the US Treasury says most of the new hires will focus on customer service and modernizing the agency.
Yellen will pledge that the IRS will increase services at the IRS tax assistance centers, which she says are understaffed.
“By next year, each center will be fully staffed. As a result, we will triple the number of Americans serving in these centers. Last year, the IRS served approximately 900,000 Americans face-to-face. In the upcoming filing season, the IRS is expected to serve as many as 900,000 Americans. At least 2.7 million Americans.”
Additionally, she will say, the IRS has been able to answer fewer than 2 in 10 phone calls; 5,000 additional customer service representatives will increase the level of service.
“In the upcoming filing season, we are obligating the IRS to an 85% level of service. That means more than five times the number of calls will be answered,” she said.
She is expected to say that the IRS will also be able to receive messages online. “Currently, when taxpayers receive a notice from the IRS, they generally must respond by mail. During the upcoming filing season, millions of taxpayers will be able to receive and respond to notices online.”