IRS Needs “to get into the 21st Century,” says Cantwell at Senate Finance Committee Hearing

Cantwell: “One in nine calls being answered during tax season is just not acceptable.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, at a U.S. Senate Committee on Finance hearing on IRS customer service challenges, Senator Cantwell pressed Jessica Lucas-Judy, Director of Strategic Issues for the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), on the need for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to improve communications features to better assist American Taxpayers during the tax filing season.

“The IRS is piloting its use of online chat features. But right now, it's limiting it to resolving collection notices. It's not been expanded to allow taxpayers to chat with customer service representatives about tax questions,” said Cantwell.

Lucas-Judy responded, “One of the challenges there was in security, trying to make sure that the function is sufficiently secure, to be able to protect sensitive taxpayer information.”

“But you're saying that [the IRS uses] it for online chat for collection...so you're using it to talk to taxpayers about sensitive tax information…but you don't want to use it to allow them to communicate to you about ‘listen, how do I do this? And this and this?’” Cantwell replied.

The number of requests to Senator Cantwell’s office for IRS assistance has grown by 764% in just two years.

  • 2019: 39 requests
  • 2020: 145 requests
  • 2021: 337 requests

Many of the requests came from constituents who attempted to contact the IRS and either couldn’t get through at all or were put on hold. In some cases hold times exceeded four hours.

“We need to look at how to upgrade the security technology of the IRS. I'm not saying that there aren't real security issues, for sure, but at the same time, I think this one in nine calls being answered during tax season is just not acceptable…We’ve got to get into the 21st century here with this level of communication,” said Cantwell.

Video of Senator Cantwell’s remarks is available HERE, audio is available HERE, and a full transcript is HERE.