It's not like anyone wants to talk to the IRS, but those who need to talk to the IRS this tax-filing season will probably be out of luck. An annual report issued by National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson predicts that only 43% of callers will get through to an agent this year, reports the Washington Post—and those who do get through will likely have to wait at least a half-hour for the privilege. Contrast that with figures from 2004, when the agency answered 87% of calls and the hold time was under three minutes; 64% of calls went answered last year.
"We do not think it is acceptable for the government to tell millions of taxpayers who seek help each year, in essence, 'We’re sorry. You’re on your own,'" says Olson, whose office is what the Hill calls an "in-house watchdog for the IRS." She blames steady budget cuts in recent years, including this year's cut of $346 million to $10.9 billion. That's down 17% in four years, when factoring in inflation, reports the New York Times, which notes that the reductions come as tax forms are getting more complicated thanks to ObamaCare and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. (Read more IRS stories.)