In an effort to be more transparent with taxpayers, the IRS launched two customer experience campaigns to disseminate accurate information to citizens earlier in the tax-filing process.
In a new report, the Partnership for Public Service and Accenture Federal Services recapped IRS’s efforts and how that will play apart in tax seasons going forward.
With budget cuts and staff shortages, the IRS wanted to cut down on the number of calls they received. The IRS hoped this would clarify questions for taxpayers before they picked up the phone to call them — a costly endeavor.
The first campaign, dubbed “Get Ready”, launched the Friday after Thanksgiving 2016 and ran till January 2017. This campaign highlighted important tax documents and filing details.
The second campaign, called “Avoid the Rush”, began in January 2017 and ran till President’s Day. Avoid the Rush publicized where people can find information on the IRS website to cut down on telephone wait times. Calls to the IRS did drop from 2016 to 2017 by nearly 20 percent.
The campaigns also directed citizens to the mobile app “Where’s My Refund”, which has been in use since 2008. The app provides three pieces of information, including: when the agency got a taxpayer’s return, if the refund was approved and by when the refund was sent.
In addition to the campaigns, the IRS wanted to see how people were sharing this information.
“People were communicating peer to peer, and word was getting around through social media, so we knew people were getting the message,” said Jim Clifford, the IRS director of customer account services in wage and investment, in a statement.
The agency also made it a priority to have partner groups, such as nonprofits and tax-software companies, share accurate information that would clarify taxpayer questions before they even called the IRS.
Plus, the IRS uses a “Customer Early Warning System” which allows the agency to “track and flag problems customers are experiencing and resolve them quickly,” according to a statement.
The next horizon for the IRS will be the 2019 tax season, which is when the recent tax overhaul — the largest since 1986 — is set to impact tax filing. The IRS will start launching campaigns in the fall.
“Every tax-filing season has its own story,” Clifford said. “Next year’s story will be implementing the tax reform legislation.”