As the April 15 tax filing deadline draws near, taxpayers phoning the IRS have found it increasingly difficult to get their calls answered. One possible culprit: The IRS refuses to provide taxpayers with the phone numbers for key offices, making them available exclusively to tax practitioners.

According to the National Taxpayer Advocate’s (NTA) recently released Annual Report to Congress:

“The IRS already has a phone directory that provides tax practitioners with the numbers of key offices in their states, but this is not available to the public.” 

The NTA asked the IRS why they do not make these phone numbers available to the public. The IRS responded by saying that the public should read through a 27-page document first:

“When asked why the IRS does not provide a public directory for taxpayers, the IRS stated, ‘Taxpayers are better served if contacts are made in accordance with Publication 910, IRS Guide to Free Tax Services…”

If taxpayers manage to track down Publication 910, they will not find any phone numbers until page 17. However, the telephone numbers listed are generic helplines and useless to taxpayers with a specific problem. Calling a local IRS office will not help taxpayers resolve a problem either, because as the NTA report explains:

“The IRS does not answer the phone at local offices and has even removed the option it once provided for taxpayers, including the elderly and disabled, to leave a message.” 

“If Marie Antoinette had worked for the IRS she would not have said of the French peasants, ‘Let them eat cake,’ but rather, ‘Let them find Publication 910,’” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “The revolution might have come sooner.”

The above-cited material can be found on page 14 of the Executive Summary; Page 131 of Volume One; and Page 125 of Volume One of the National Taxpayer Advocate’s Annual Report to Congress.

Part One of the National Taxpayer Advocate’s Annual Report may be accessed here.

The Executive Summary of the National Taxpayer Advocate’s Annual Report may be accessed here.